Mak Remissa, an award-winning photojournalist whose photographs evoking memories of the Khmer Rouge has brought him renown as an artist, decided to put down his camera and pick up a paintbrush for his latest exhibition.
For the Photo Phnom Penh festival, which opened on Thursday evening, Remissa is showcasing 10 self-portraits in oil, saying that painting was in fact his specialty at university. Even though he is now busy with his job as a photographer, he never forgot his painting.
“I really love painting. That’s the reason I attended the Royal University of Fine Arts,” he said.
Remissa was born on September 5, 1970. In 1995, he graduated with a degree in painting from the Royal University of Fine Arts.
The following year, he began working as a photojournalist for the French-language newspaper Cambodge Soir in Phnom Penh, and his work as a photographer has continued. He currently shoots for the European Pressphoto Agency.
Nevertheless, he always held onto a wish that he could hold a painting exhibition at least once in his life.
The 10 self-portraits at Photo Phnom Penh exhibit a variety of styles, from featuring bold, exuberant brushstrokes to more delicate scenes with his wife. He carries a camera in each.
A blurb accompanying one of the paintings describes it as a portrait “in which he appears tired, exhausted by the weight of the cameras, by the repetition, by a form of boredom, obviously.”
The festival’s art director, Christian Caujolle, said funding to continue the annual exhibition was currently in an uncertain state, and it was unclear whether Photo Phnom Penh could be held again next year.
However, Caujolle said he also had plans to open a new school for photography and video in Phnom Penh next year, and hoped the photo festival could continue as part of the school.
“The first year, we will collect 50 students and they can study for free for three years,” he said.
Photo Phnom Penh, which started in 2008, this year runs from October 24 to November 24, and is held at the Institut Francais, Java Café, Tor Tim Art Gallery, the Plantation Hotel, Futures Factory, Sra’Art Gallery and Bophana Center in Phnom Penh, and Batia Sarem Gallery in Siem Reap.
More than 40 artists are taking part, including Remissa, Khvay Samnang, Philong Sovan, Kim Hak, Isabel Muñoz and John Vink.