Two Artists Take Their Ardor For Rare Birds to the Canvas

Chhan Dina’s paintings are luxuriant and bold, tinted with the green of vegetation or the blue of sunlit water. Frederikke Tu’s are delicate and layered—studies in light.

Both have decided, through their art, to make a case for the protection of Cambodia’s rare birds and other threatened wildlife. Their joint exhibition, “Drawing the Golden Thread,” opens tonight at the InterContinental hotel.

An untitled painting by Chhan Dina
An untitled painting by Chhan Dina

“Our birds are almost gone,” said Ms. Dina, a 31-year-old Cambodian painter and established figure in the local art scene.

In her work “Blue Forest,” the elongated necks of birds blend with flower stems in a scene bathed in blue-green light; a deer stands in the background. In “Birds 2,” birds and fish are abstracted amid the dense foliage of a forest.

Ms. Dina said she was inspired to paint birds after making several trips to the forests of Mondolkiri province and the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province, where deforestation and development is threatening natural habitats.

For Ms. Tu, a 40-year-old Danish painter and photographer who befriended Ms. Dina shortly after moving to Cambodia two years ago, conservation has been a lifelong interest.

'Call of the Sargus Crane' by Frederikke Tu.
‘Call of the Sargus Crane’ by Frederikke Tu.

“I have traveled a lot in Asia, to do bird photography predominantly,” she said.

For “Drawing the Golden Thread,” she experimented with ink, watercolors, acrylic paint, metallic paint and gold foil to create luminosity in delicately-crafted scenes. Her work “Tree of Life” depicts a tree shown from a low angle, silhouetted against a pale brown sky, its branches populated by birds and monkeys.

“When the natural light hits the painting, and it’s reflected on you, it will change depending on what the light is like,” she said. “So the feeling that you get from this painting will be different if you’re seeing it in the morning or in the afternoon.”

The exhibition opens at 6 p.m. at the InterContinental’s Insider Gallery and runs through April 24.

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