Tiny Canvases, Big Ideas: Sneak Peak of the Toch Toch Art Exhibition
An open call for Cambodia-based artists led to a stunning new exhibition.
Lead Image: Cat in Paris by Tin Arce Cabrera
A mosaic of more than 200 doodles, ceramics, paintings, embroideries and silkscreens crafted by Cambodia’s talented art community will brighten up the walls of Plantation Urban Resort & Spa when Toch Toch is unveiled next month.
The group exhibition is the brainchild of n o w h e r e Art Studio co-founders, Syahrulfikri Salleh and Lolli Park. In February, they put out a creative call for artists to take part in the exhibit. The only requirements are that the maximum size is 1ft by 1ft, the work must be original and the maximum price is $300.
“We really wanted to have a mix of talent and styles,” says Syahrulfikri, commonly known as Ajin, who took part in a similar event in his home country of Malaysia in 2008. “We also really wanted to give a chance to all levels of artists, not just professionals.”
The response was overwhelming, attracting the diversity of applicants Ajin and Lolli desired. The result is 24 artists that range from a 10-year-old student and hobbyists, through to senior and professional creatives making graphics, paintings, ceramics and embroidery.
“We’re really happy with the mix we have,” says Lolli, who will also be showcasing her work. The South Korean artist is famous for her charismatic illustrations of Cambodian street scenes and iconic spots. “We want to make art affordable and accessible to all.”
This is a concept n o w h e r e has championed since it opened its doors in the capital. As well as providing a space for artists to come together, it runs a series of workshops, exhibitions and creative projects. These include Phsar Art, the inspiration for Toch Toch. The annual curated art market provides professional and amateur artists with a platform to showcase and sell their work.
“This is more of a premium version of Phsar Art,” says Lolli. “The small size is also friendlier for newcomers and those wanting to experiment with something different.”
As part of the ethos of providing affordable art, a cap has been put on the cost with most pieces sitting between $100 and $300. “We often go to exhibitions and admire the art but know we can’t afford to buy them,” says Lolli. “Reducing the size also reduces the price and that’s what we want – to provide affordable art.”
Organising an exhibition during a global pandemic has also come with its challenges. The event was originally scheduled for 2020 but plans were put on hold when Covid-19 broke out. It was rescheduled for March 2021 but the current community outbreak has pushed it back to the end of April. However, with cases continuing to climb Ajin says forward planning is difficult.
“We hope by then the situation will be better,” he adds. “We will assess it but hope to be able to go ahead with caution. We also understand if the public don’t want to come but encourage them to support the art community by sharing the event online, talking about it and raising awareness.”
A host of art activities are also slated to take place during the one-month exhibition. This includes artist talks, creative workshops, live sessions and music performances. These will depend on any Covid restrictions in place at the time.
“It’s been a really tough time for artists, not just us but worldwide,” says Ajin. Both his and Lolli’s work and projects for 2020 were scrapped due to the pandemic. This provided Lolli with more inspiration to plough ahead with the event.
“In December, I asked many artists online how much work they had done. Many said because exhibitions had been cancelled they hadn’t been making much new work. This motivated me to create more artworks and that’s also what we wanted to do with Toch Toch; try to motivate artists to get creative and make more.”
Toch Toch runs from April 24 to May 27 at Plantation Urban Resort & Spa, Phnom Penh
The Featured Artists:
1. Anya Syrtsova, Russian
2. Buth Puthirika, Cambodian
3. Cho Yoon Hye, South Korean
4. Eclipse Sambo, Cambodian
5. Erika Valera, Filipino
6. Iona Bergius, British
7. Jean-Pascal Vittori, French
8. Justina Edwardsen, American
9. Ket Monnyreak, Cambodian
10. Leo Colburn, American
11. Lolli Park, South Korean
12. Lyly Leav, Cambodian
13. Markus Dixon, Australian
14. Micheal McKay, Canadian
15. Morgane Hervé-Gangloff, French
16. Nicolas C Grey, British
17. Olivia M Hough, British
18. Sarah Marcni, French
19. Syahrulfikri Salleh (Ajin), Malaysian
20. Tan Vatey, Cambodian
21. Tin Arce Cabrera, Filipino
22. Sieng Sukunthkanika, Cambodian
23. Srdan Ilic, Serbian
24. Socheathy Ouk, Cambodian