Despite the public outcry following last week’s whitewashing of a multistory mural on the White Building, local officials in Phnom Penh are continuing efforts to erase art from public spaces, with their sights now set on a large painting near Central Market.
Daun Penh district governor Kuoch Chamroeun said that he planned to send officials to ensure the removal of the offending artwork, located on the corner of streets 154 and 53.
“We will erase the picture because the painting doesn’t have permission,” he said, declining to specify exactly when the removal would occur.
Sy Tun, chief of Phsar Thmei I commune, where the stylized mural of a wide-set face takes up two stories of an apartment building wall, said, however, that the artists had received permission to paint the wall.
“A municipal official telephoned me and asked me to allow the foreigners to paint the picture, as they were now submitting a permission letter,” she said.
Yet City Hall had reversed its position and ordered the painting’s removal last week, she said.
“The Phnom Penh governor gave me the authority a few days ago to remove the painting, but I can’t as it is too high,” she said.
Chhum Sovannary, 43, said she has lived in the four-story building since it was built in 1990. The outside wall of her second-story apartment provides much of the canvas for the piece. She also said she had told the artists they could paint the building.
“I like it because the picture is funny. I want it to remain,” she said.
City Hall Spokesman Long Dimanche on Tuesday declined to comment on the painting.
“I am not able to give an answer for this case and I wish to request that journalists stop writing this useless story,” he said.