Veteran artist Chhim Sothy has been famous for his painting for 20 years. His newest exhibition, “Consuming Passion,” is a call for environmental protections, among other things, he told VOA Khmer in an interview.
“In Buddhism, the desire of human beings is endless, from their birth until death,” he said. “Even when they die, their spirit still looks for a better place. In these paintings, I want to describe problems in society, in the environment. ‘Consuming Passion’ aims in a positive way to work with the government to prevent the problems related to the environment.”
The exhibit, which opened June 25 at the Plantation Hotel, in Phnom Penh, contains 20 paintings. Among them are three that Chhim Sothy favors most.
The first is “Cosmos,” which includes depictions of water, earth, fire and wind. “None of the elements can be lost,” he said. “All elements support the balance of this world.”
The second is “Reflect,” which shows the relationship between the sun and the Earth—and the warming of the planet. “It demands taking care of nature’s sustainability, and letting all people live equally,” he said.
The third is “Harmony,” which calls for people to live together peacefully. It is drawn in a Khmer style and has received a lot of attention. “A lot of people have told me they like ‘Harmony,’ but they are still considering its price,” he said. “It includes a lotus to represent art, culture and religion, all in one painting.”
Most of the paintings in the collection center around nature and the environment. These are important issues in Cambodia today, Chhim Sothy said. They are important beyond Cambodia, too. “We live on the same planet, spinning through the galaxy. So we have a responsibility to protect this planet by balancing its environment, to have fresh air, and no pollution altogether,” he said. “We don’t just live for a day, or even 10 years. We should think about the next generation, too.”
Consumption and desire play a role in that, he said. Good art can make people rethink their actions. “They will understand that money earned from environmental destruction could have a fatal impact on them,” he said. “And they will not want this money anymore. They will decrease or stop doing any act that could destroy the environmental system. Then, we will live easily, breath easily and sleep well.”