PHNOM PENH - A renowned Cambodian artist has put on display four pieces of his latest work to honor and remember the late former king, Norodom Sihanouk, ahead of the monarch’s cremation ceremony next month.
The Sihanouk works are mixed media hangings on pieces of cloth, hung on the walls of a gallery for artist Leang Seckon. They combine incense sticks and scraps of paper taken from gatherings of mourners outside the Royal Palace.
“I created the new works to share my condolences and to deal with my sadness on the passing away of the king,” Leang Seckon said.
Sihanouk, who abdicated the throne in 2004, died in Beijing in October, following a heart attack. He was revered by many Cambodians, who called him King Father, and thousands of people have come to mourn his passing outside the palace, where his body lies in state.
Leang Seckon said merely mourning the king was not enough.
“His merit and heroism as king, with a good heart, are reflected through my works, so that the world can see them,” he said.
It took him five weeks to create the works, which are collected in an exhibition called “Farewell, Cambodia,” after the title of one of Sihanouk’s favorite songs.
In one work, national and world leaders, and even animals, appear saddened by Sihanouk’s passing. Another shows Sihanouk in a sky full of clouds, representing heaven.
Neang Kavich, a university student who came to view the works, said they spoke without words. “He just speaks through his artwork, for all Khmers to understand even more clearly about our king.”
Leang Seckon says the displays will be shown in Singapore next week.
“To continue on his legacy, the King Father’s legacy, by dedicating these pieces and educating people in Singapore from all around the world about the King Father and about Cambodia, I think its very, very exciting,” said Todd Smith, the director of a consulting firm in Phnom Penh, who also came to see the works.