Artists Portray the Evolving Role of Rice in Modern-Day Asia

A destitute mother and child sitting amid dark stones, a meager plate of rice in front of them; a happy worker smiling in a field of golden rice with a bright blue sky above. Two very different images of rice, but both relevant in today’s world.

These contrasting images are part of the exhibition “2017 Asia and Rice,” which opens tonight at the Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap City and features the work of nine Cambodian artists and more than 20 South Korean artists.

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Artist Nou Sary with his painting ‘Humanity and Rice Field’ stands on Wednesday among works by fellow Cambodian artists about to be set up at an exhibition in Siem Reap. (Exposure Siem Reap)

The Cambodian artworks are as diverse as modern Cambodia, reflecting a country where age-old scenes mix with today’s often-harsh reality while glimpses of the future appear here and there.

Although rice has long been synonymous with Asia, this is evolving along with the profound changes taking place on the continent, if only in agricultural technology, said South Korean artist Shim Hong-jae. And this cannot fail to reflect on societies in which rice has played a crucial role, he added.

This is expressed in an array of styles and techniques by the artists from Cambodia. Srun Sopheak used oil paint and a nearly classic style to feature the mother and child. Roath Vireak adopted an illustration technique with pastels to depict the smiling field worker, while Em Riem used rice bags to create an abstract work in gold-brown tones.

Srun Sopheaks painting featuring in the exhibition. Photo Exposure Siem Reap
Srun Sopheak’s painting featuring in the exhibition. (Exposure Siem Reap)

Artist Nou Sary, who oversaw the exhibition project in Cambodia, involved three generations of artists so the works would have viewpoints based on differing life experiences and times.

Due to the large number of artworks, some of the works will be exhibited at the Mahob Khmer Restaurant—designed with exhibition space for artworks—in Siem Reap.

Held with the support of the Korean People Artist Federation, Jeonbuk subdivision, the exhibition was held in Jeonju, a city in western South Korea earlier this month, before moving to Siem Reap.

“2017 Asia and Rice”

Where: Angkor National Museum, ground floor, #968 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Siem Reap

Opening: 5:00 p.m. The artists will move onto Mahob Khmer Restaurant (#137, Traing Village, Group 3) at 6:00 p.m.

Until May 19: Free admission

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