The Cambodian capital’s growing collection of contemporary art spaces is a reflection of the rising number of artists, who tackle a variety of techniques and topics in their work, in the city. Here are 10 of the best contemporary art galleries in Phnom Penh that showcase their art.
As a stalwart on the coffee shop scene, Java has been catering to the capital’s swelling expat and young Khmer population since 2000. Spread across two floors, fresh food is served throughout the day, with the upstairs doubling up as an art gallery featuring changing exhibits of local artists’ work. Java recently opened a cafe and art space in Toul Tom Poung that also features a black box theatre.
Having recently moved to its current location in the heart of the capital’s art district on Street 178, Khmer Sense showcases the finest of Cambodia’s growing collection of contemporary artists. It also doubles up as a restaurant and bar, with a pool table and regular live music in the evenings.
The stylish Plantation hotel is also home to Lotus Pond Art Gallery, which houses a rotating variety of exhibitions from a mix of local and international artists. Exhibitions usually change every six weeks, with an opening party held for each.
META HOUSE is a creative space in the heart of the city that was opened in 2007 by German filmmaker Nico Mesterharm. The two-storey building is home to a ground floor gallery, upstairs indoor bar and diner where DJs play regularly in the evenings, and an outdoor space that hosts workshops, talks and daily screenings of documentaries and independent and mainstream movies. It scooped the 2016 Award For the Best Contemporary Arts Centre in Southeast Asia.
SA SA BASSAC is a gallery and resource centre devoted to curating and archiving contemporary Cambodian visual culture. The multi-storey space houses a variety of exhibitions from local and international artists, while facilitating a series of artistic exchanges, residencies and educational programmes. It was co-founded in 2011 by Stiev Selapak artist collective and curator Erin Gleeson.
Cambodian artist Teang Borin — known as Din — has made a name for himself across Cambodia for his elegant, colourful and abstract portrayal of the graceful apsara dancers that inspire him. Having studied architecture from 2001 to 2005 and going on to spend seven years working for an architecture firm, Din is now a full-time artist. His variety of work, that also tackles issues such as homosexuality, religion and society, is on display at his gallery and studio above Feel Good Cafe.
Acting as a platform for the capital’s rising number of urban artists, Kbach Gallery aims to promote and support the street art scene. It hosts a range of exhibitions showcasing local and Cambodia-based artists’ work, while also acting as a permanent place for selected artists to display their work. It also puts on exhibits of international artists’ pieces.
Hidden down a network of back alleys, Neverland Artspace is a creative space for the capital’s artists and curators. It regularly hosts exhibitions, talks, workshops, performances and other art-related events. It is also home to permanent studio, n o w h e r e art studio, which showcases and sells a variety of quirky art from across the region.
In 1992, the Institut Français du Cambodge (IFC) — then known as the Centre Culturel Français — was the first art centre to reopen in Cambodia after decades of cultural stagnancy brought on by civil unrest. The spacious grounds house gardens and a sprawling minimalist-style building. It holds regular exhibitions, workshops and classes, live entertainment, screenings and mini festivals.
Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center is a cinema and hub for photography, television, film and sound. As a lot of image and sound archives were destroyed during decades of conflict, Bophana collates and archives surviving material and puts them on display for the public. It also serves as an educational site where young Cambodians can learn audiovisual techniques, multimedia practices, broadcasting and film production. Visitors can peruse photographs that date back to 1866 and heaps of treasured film footage. The space also regularly hosts exhibitions, workshops and film screenings.