In Exhibits, British Artist Reflects on 15 Years in Cambodia

It’s been nearly five years since British artist Sasha Constable, who decided to live in Cambodia after an artist-in-residence program with the World Monuments Fund in 2000, has exhibited in the country.

She’s making up for it with “Constable Winters,” a six-venue retrospective that opened over the weekend in Siem Reap City.

Portraits from the series “Hope,” on display at The Little Red Fox in Siem Reap City. (Sasha Constable)
Portraits from the series “Hope,” on display at The Little Red Fox in Siem Reap City. (Sasha Constable)

“I’m basically curating all the work I’ve done and bringing everything together,” she said in an interview last week. “It’s really a celebration of all the creations I’ve done in the last 15 years as a way to show people a part of my time in Cambodia.”

While Ms. Constable worked primarily as a sculptor before making the move to Cambodia, she’d always wanted to experiment with other mediums and techniques. The works on display in “Constable Winters” offer a window into these artistic forays.

“It’s a way for me to show a lot of my old work, but also the newer work that I’ve been doing,” she said, noting that her last exhibit was at Java Cafe in Phnom Penh in 2011.

Ms. Constable chose six of her favorite spots in Siem Reap for the event: The Little Red Fox, Kroya restaurant, Aha, The Sugar Palm, Miss Wong and Amansara Resort.

“I have different themes that have run through my work since I’ve been in Cambodia, so each venue has work that is really related to one particular theme,” she said.

At Shinta Mani’s Kroya restaurant, sculptures inspired by mythical folklore are on display, while the works at Aha and The Sugar Palm consist of linocut and woodcut selections depicting Angkorian temples and ancient Cambodian traditions.

Large acrylic abstract paintings composed of triangular and circular patterns are hung at Miss Wong along with a black and white portrait of the late King Norodom Sihanouk. Opening at Amansara on December 18 is a series of linocuts and acrylic paintings depicting the “Sacred Dancers of Angkor,” a troupe that she met during a performance at the Banteay Srei temple.

The Little Red Fox is hosting a show focusing on another of Ms. Constable’s most prominent themes: the struggle and perseverance of those whose lives have been upended by land mines, which have left Cambodia with one of the highest rates of amputees in the world.

Six portraits from Ms. Constable’s “Hope” series—black faces printed onto visors and illuminated from behind—depict villagers she met in 2009 who live on land that was cleared of mines. In addition to the portraits are four linocuts, including one inspired by a visit to Banteay Meanchey province.

While visiting a heavily-mined stretch of land on the Thai border, Ms. Constable met a woman who lived on the minefield’s edge. “On the Edge” depicts the woman and her child watching a man clearing land mines, helping turn a death trap into a livable plot of land.

All of the exhibits, excluding the one at Amansara, opened this weekend and will run through February 18.

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