| painting

Painting the collective memory by F. Tainturier

Chhoeun Rithy paints buildings in reprieve. Art Deco buildings, constructions inspired from classic art, or dazzling modernist structures,… these are all architectures which are testimonies of past times but all buildings in reprieve. In colonial times and after the Independence, these buildings were not depicted as paintings but on post cards. They made Phnom Penh people very proud of their city. When writing to friends abroad, in France, United-States or China, they could say to them: “Here, you see, we do have a brand new railway station, a futuristic theater, or a broadcasting station airing for the entire country”. All these buildings were clearly figuring signs of modernity and propaganda, yet they were for all Phnom Penh people parts of their collective memory. From yesterday’s postcards to Chhoeun Rithy’s impressionist paintings today, anecdotes and events related to these buildings are boundless. Yet their days are counted and Chhoeun Rithy reminds us about it. A statement between aesthetics and civil engagement, painting the collective memory takes a very particular meaning in today’s Cambodia.