Miss Sambo, the elephant that is usually seen giving people rides around Wat Phnom, made a special appearance at the Royal University of Fine Arts last week.
At the request of Philippe Louisgrand, a French professor and artist invited by the French Cultural Center to work in Cambodia, Sambo modeled for Louisgrand’s drawing class on Tuesday. The purpose of the exercise was to get students used to completing a sketch, quickly, from a live model, Louisgrand said.
“In just one glance, we had to capture every detail for the sketch, and draw it fast,” said Kim Samdy, a fourth-year interior design student. “We learned a very interesting technique.”
They used India ink, which made every line they drew impossible to erase. “Drawing [this way] is projecting oneself on paper,” said Louisgrand, who is director of the Ecole regionale des Beaux-Arts, a French art school renowned for design. While one can always add layers of color to change a painting, “drawing is direct, pure and tough,” he said.
The French Cultural Center is exhibiting giant India-ink sketches drawn by Louisgrand through February. One sketch shows a nearly life-size elephant.
Louisgrand is the first of what may be a long list of French teaching artists to visit the university, said Guy Issanjou, director of the cultural center since October.
Issanjou—an architect with art-history training who has been director of three major fine arts schools in France—has contacted various French institutions to invite teaching artists to exhibit at the center, and teach classes at the university during their stay.
Already, art school Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris has responded positively to the idea of cooperating with the university, Issanjou said. Louisgrand also plans to continue his institution’s involvement.