Rebirth of the capital’s artistic scene during a collaborative exhibition
One evening last month, at an art gallery in the capital, attendees arrived and saw a wall filled with photos and images – both film prints and paintings – combined in an undeniably creative presentation. and amazing that conveyed a sense of many different cultures and religions. overlap.
As the audience absorbed the landscape created by the art around them, models walked in and out of the room wearing different outfits and garments in a simultaneous art exhibition and fashion show showcasing the works. of a trio of collaborators with a background in photography, painting and fashion.
The opening of the Genesis MMXXI exhibition took place on December 11 and 12, 2021 at the FT Gallery and will be on view until February 6, 2022. The main collaborators of the exhibition are the founder and designer of ARMADA Reynier Abello, the photographer Tyta Buth of Tytaart and artist and curator/owner of FT Gallery, Fonki.
Reynier says the project takes traditional iconography from various cultures and religions and transforms constructions of gender into more progressive and open-minded conceptualizations that aim to emphasize that even with shifts in traditional gender roles underway, the the underlying inherent power and beauty they represent remain unchanged. or even raised and in this sense the exhibition is a reflection of everyday life.
“Using the mediums of photography and painting to communicate the story of a fashion line that is an expression of changes in our collective attitude towards gender and the way we perceive it is not really something Cambodia has never seen before,” Tyta told The Post. .
Reynier, a fashion designer from the Philippines, says that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he found himself having to re-evaluate his life and professional direction and it influenced his creative processes tremendously and that’s where that the idea of making a different kind of fashion line was born.
“When Cambodia entered the second wave of the pandemic towards the end of February this year, it was clear to me that my brand might not be able to do a proper runway presentation for our Spring/Summer Venus collection.
“The idea of doing something involving a series of highly artistic and conceptual photographs came to me while browsing Facebook and came across Tyta’s work. His work is truly inspiring and so in tune with my brand philosophy. I approached her and she said yes immediately. Later in the process, Fonki got involved — and then the rest of the artists,” Reynier told The Post.
The exhibition and fashion show has since blossomed into a gigantic project involving more artists than he ever thought possible in Cambodia during a global pandemic and what started as a small idea for his latest line of mode has evolved into a project involving nearly 20 artists based in and around the Kingdom.
Besides clothes, paintings and photographs, there are digital paintings by Virekbot, graphics by Jean Baptiste-Carraro, graffiti-style paintings by The Sokheng and Fonki, sculptures by Roma, drawings by Ryysa, tattoos from Tor, abstract expressionist paintings from Donvirao, traditional oil paintings from Sou Kimsan and calligraphic arts from Yalev.
Tyta says she feels very happy knowing that another creative person has trusted her judgment and her work and allowed her to create stories and shape the direction of the art to tell the story of her fashion line.
“It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with fashion to this extent. Merging different mediums to showcase a fashion line is something Cambodia hasn’t had in a long time and bringing it back and making it work this way has been a great experience for me,” she says.
Fonki says he used to do collaborations with streetwear brands like t-shirt or shoe companies, but never with a high fashion designer like Reynier, which was quite different from what he was at. what he was used to or anticipated.
“My role was to invite other artists and give them a little direction on the narrative of the exhibition to see if they were inspired by it and obviously they were because they ended up participating in it. And the input of Tyta’s photography and photo shoots with Reynier’s clothes gave it a strong artistic direction.
“As a curator my goal is to give freedom to other artists to be inspired by the theme we are working on and the fact that it was done successfully in Cambodia with the participation of many local artists was a lot of fun and the process helped merge the different areas involved in the exhibition,” says Fonki.
Instead of wallowing in their troubles and lamenting the hardships of life during this difficult time of the pandemic, they got busy making plans and creating art.
Reynier says his entire collection was designed with the genesis theme in mind and he also coordinated and communicated with Tyta on how she wanted to style things and they even chose a color palette for the collection together so that everything matches Tyta’s vision for his photographs.
Greek, Hindu, and Filipino mythologies are fused together to create the show’s imagery. Fonki and Tyta have Cambodian roots and wanted to reflect on their identity through the core values of their culture, which is Buddhist but heavily influenced by ancient Hinduism. For Reynier, as a Filipino, pre-colonial Filipino mythology was an integral part of his heritage.
Greek mythology and classical Greek art and architecture – which have strongly influenced all Western culture for thousands of years – are the main inspiration for fashion design and the structure of photography in terms of poses and of gestures.
“Since we have three different cultures as the basic structure of the project, finding similarities and differences was an important factor for this. Over two months of research, I discovered that the gods and goddesses of these mythologies share very similar, if not exactly the same values, roles and histories. So by digging deep into the elements that connect them, we wrote a new story for each piece and told the stories of modern gender identity through the visual arts,” says Tyta.
The name Genesis draws from its original meaning of birth and rebirth or takes on new forms and interpretations. Genesis is chosen as the name for this project due to its concept of rebirth as all the collaborators took a step outside of their comfort zones and decided to merge their mediums to create a new final piece.
Tyta says one of her favorite pieces in the exhibit is Sunbathing, her collaboration with Sou Kimsan. The story of this play brings together three sun gods from three myths and merges them and gives them a new narrative about gender and relationships.
“First, to normalize modern relationships and respect that as individuals we have the right to love anyone and to love as many people as we want as long as there is an equal balance of power and respect.
“Second, open your heart and accept that we all have different concepts of happiness and third, self-love. All truth comes from within and it takes loving and accepting yourself – even your own imperfections and flaws. — before you can truly love and accept someone else,” Tyta says.
Fonki’s favorite choice is a piece called hermaphrodite that he worked on.
“I started with Reynier’s fashion design and then the next layer of Tyta’s photography. Taking time to reflect on the photography she made and trying to add to it in a way that would blend and complement her aesthetic. I wanted to do something clean and graphic, so I went with my Kbach graffiti style that I’ve been doing for a decade and made it blend in with their styles without one taking over the other. ‘other,” says Fonki.
Reynier says he wasn’t always sure the end result they got would be worthy of the vision they had for the show when planning it, but in the end, it all turned out great.
“I think this exhibition really pushed our creative abilities to the next level. It also shows that it is beautiful to work together and share individual talents and expertise with the aim of achieving a common goal which is to inspire and start a conversation,” says Reynier.
A portion of all sales will be donated to Rainbow Community Kampuchea (ROCK) organization. ROCK is a Cambodian NGO dedicated to supporting the LGBTQI+ community in the Kingdom, making it a good choice for the exhibition’s gender identity themes.
“Our advocacy and community engagement improves the lives of LGBTQI+ Cambodians in the capital and provinces and our core values align perfectly with the Genesis MMXXI project,” said Adam Rodwell, speaking at the opening of the exhibit on behalf of of ROCK.
The Genesis MMXXI exhibition runs until February 6, 2022 at the FT Gallery in The Factory at Urban Village in Phnom Penh.
For more information, see the FT Gallery Facebook page: FTGalleryPhnomPenh