Sra’ Art: A commercial art hub for photography and painting

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Pha Lina (not in picture) is back in the Kingdom to showcase his photos about the illegal exploitation of kro nhoung, a luxurious wood, in the Photo Phnom Penh Festival. Pha Lina

Pha Lina has exhibited his photos in France, Japan, and Spain through his photography career spanning 10 years. However, he has only sold 15 photos during that time due to the limited number of suitable spaces to display his work.

Lina told The Post: “As a photographer, I think what we need is not only an art exhibition space but also an art commercial hub that gathers people to appreciate photography and purchase the pieces of art.”

He is back in the Kingdom to showcase his photos about the illegal exploitation of kro nhoung, a luxurious wood, in the Photo Phnom Penh Festival.

The Photo Phnom Penh Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The event is being held at the commercial contemporary art gallery Sra’ Art, which had its grand opening last Friday.

The exhibition – which unveils the work of 40 artists, including 13 Cambodian photographers – will continue until November 26.

Kaksok Phirom, Khun Vannak, Khvay Samnang, Lim Sokchanlina, Mak Remissa, Mech Sereyrath, Neak Sophal, Pha Lina, Sovan Philong, Sorn Seyhaktit (Ti Tit) and acclaimed international artist Anna Katharina Scheidegger are also among the featured photographers.

“It’s necessary to have a commercial art gallery. It celebrates the work of experienced and emerging artists.

“Besides, if photographers and artists can earn a decent price for their work, they will be motivated to create more amazing and meaningful photos.

“Last but not least, I believe photography is a mirror of our society that portrays positive and negative aspects. Photographers need a platform to tell their stories captured through the lens,” said Lina.

Sra’ Art consists of a photo studio, a participatory painting party concept, and an events hall spread out over two floors.

Its founder Cecile Eap is a French-Cambodian who appreciates art. She established the gallery to promote the flourishing contemporary Cambodian arts scene.

She pointed out that Sra’ Art targets the local market, not tourists.

“We saw the need for an independent commercial gallery that helps emerging artists to engage with the public.

“We hope to develop a loyal audience of art advocates among the locals and the expatriate community.”

“We strive for versatility, creating traffic and helping people who probably would never think to step foot in an art gallery enjoy the space and the cultural activities as much as the artwork on its walls,” said Eap.

Sra’ Art’s main purpose is to create a commercial art hub for photographs and paintings.

It promotes the work of Cambodian artists, collaborative works between international and local artists, as well as works from foreign photographers and painters based in the Kingdom that were inspired by Cambodian culture and people.

“We hope it will create a realisation that the professionalism and creativity of Khmer artists is genuine and well. We are also working towards helping female Cambodian photographers to keep on with their careers,” said Eap.

There are currently a small band of female painters and sculptors in the Kingdom, but female photographers in Cambodia tend to give up their career early on, should they start a family.

As an effort to support women photographers, a talk on the challenge of being a woman in the photography profession will be held on Monday with a Q&A session in the art gallery.

Sra’ Art is a platform for talented Cambodian artists to feature their work. Its location was specifically selected to be near the National Museum and Royal Palace.

Sra’ Art Gallery is located at No. 7/9E0, Sothearos Boulevard, across the park from the National Museum and the Royal Palace, between Street 178 and Wat Ounaloum.