Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Khmer artist Chanthou Oeur

Born on a small sandy island about 20 miles from Phnom Penh, artist and poet, Chanthou Oeur, became an orphan at a very early age and was raised by his sister and Buddhist monks until his mid-teens. After two years as a freedom fighter, and as a teacher in a refugee camp, he settled into a new life, living near Washington DC in the United States, where he's now recognised as a sculptor of some note.

Self-taught, he works in a variety of mediums, including stone, metal and wood. ‘‘My work is always about life and people,” he says. While hesistant to identify a favorite medium, ‘‘it’s like children, you love them in different ways,” he explains, Oeur has found himself working more with stone pieces lately. ‘‘My ambition is getting bigger and I want to turn something that is seen as hard and rough into something smooth and nice while keeping the same look.”
Over the last two decades, Oeur has participated in a number of exhibitions, winning first prize at the global Cambodian Art Festival in Long Beach, California, participating in the Smithsonian's Natural History exhibit Across the Seas and Over the Mountains, and taking part in a Khmer Arts exhibition at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. He's also presented his poetry and art at the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota in an exhibition entitled 'Facing Death'. You can find his work at the Khmer Art Gallery in Philadelphia, alongside that of Phnom Penh-based painter Asasax, who's already been featured on this blog. Also visit Oeur's own website here.

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