Organizer: Dana Langlois
Curator: Bradford Edwards
This exhibition had to happen. There was never a question in Dana’s mind about that, but rather when and where were the only salient concerns. She came up with a simple, yet brilliant, idea of gathering all the Svay Ken paintings available locally here in Phnom Penh and sharing them with the community - Svay Ken’s own community.
With that goal in mind, like the town squire she cried out and beseeched the community to step forward with their precious paintings. People heard the call and slowly emerged from their busy lives to donate what they had for the exhibition. It is a community-based project that is absolutely commercial free. In fact, it is impossible to buy a painting during this exhibition. Not one painting is for sale and how refreshing and wonderful is that? In today’s version of the art market and the world in general, this idea is almost anarchic, revolutionary, and unheard of.
This exhibition is a direct reflection of the community’s intimate involvement in the life of Svay Ken. Most all these people offering their painting to be shared visited the artist’s studio personally and sat and talked with this great man. I know this because I took many of them there myself. I probably took well over 300 different individuals to that studio since 1996 and some bought paintings and some did not. Most left with a little piece of the artist, a bit of oil paint, usually made in China and then upgraded to English oils, lovingly applied to canvas wrapped around wooden stretcher bars. Fortunately, some of these people whom I introduced to Svay Ken are still here in Phnom Penh and willingly want to share their treasure with the rest of us.
We are so lucky, we who can see this show of community and camaraderie. This show is all about the brilliance and vision of Svay Ken, but it is also about his surrounding community. This exhibition is about people coming together to celebrate one man’s life and work, an exceptional man, an extraordinary painter who documented what he saw around him. Svay Ken might have stopped breathing, but his artwork and his effect on people around him will fill all of us with love and hope and warmth...forever.
Bradford Edwards Phnom Penh Cambodia February 2009
To all who very kindly contributed their personal works by Svay Ken to be displayed in this exhibition
Ms. Pat Baars
Ms. Josephine Barbour
Mr. Gino Benelli
Ms. Helene Bizot
Mr. Darryl Collins
Mr. Bradford Edwards
Ms. Erin Gleeson
Dr. Helen Jarvis and Mr. Allen Myers
Mrs. Mia Jordan-Wood and Mr. Tapley Wood
Mr. Marco Kalinna
Mr. Seth Meixner
Mr. Sopheap Pich
Mrs. Boukje Reindersma
Svay Ken Family
Mr. Patrick Uong
Mr. Marvin Yeo
And to those who helped make this exhibition possible
Les Celliers d’Asie