INTERVIEW WITH CAMBODIAN ARTIST NOV CHEANICK
I recently came across the work of Cambodian artist Nov Cheanick and was eager to interview this talent on his life and inspirations. It so happened the interview came at an interesting turning point in the artist’s life, as he has just moved from Cambodia and is currently settling in France. The artist was born in the refugee camp site ‘number two ‘ located at the border between Thaïland and Cambodia in 1989. He began drawing at a young age,
“ We didn't have enough money to buy paper or pens so I drew on the ground with my finger. “
As a teen, he studied traditional painting techniques with the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang. There he met the french artist Séra where he got his first taste of contemporary art, and how he could use it to express and free himself of conventions. At 22, he studied for several months in France, which was a huge change, and upon returning he felt limited to the access of culture, books, museums and art in general which was very tough for the young artist.
Your greatest inspirations?
I remember the first art book I read, it was Jean Rustin's book a french painter. I always keep this book with me. I think that his dark abstraction and figures are printed in me. My paintings are following my life, both the dark and colourful times.
I spend a lot of time doing meditation, hours and hours, you learn to see the essence of your very own nature.
What would be a dream project for you?
I would love to work on an art residency with other artists culminating into a big exhibition.
Challenges of your industry?
To find professionals truly driven by their passion and fascination for art, not just their interest in money.
Favourite websites, social media handles?
Instagram ! It is easy to follow what other artists are doing all around the world and follow institutions or gallery activities. It is also the most artistic of all social media platforms and you can find quality content.
.Most interesting response you’ve heard about your work?
During an exhibition/presentation in Phnom Penh, there were several attendees who had never been to a gallery or museum in their life, in fact it was their first time in front of art. They were shy, they found it hard to feel anything because they said they could not “ understand” my work. We discussed it, and I told them they didn’t have to understand the art, I asked them to experience it in stead and it became quite an emotional experience when they began to describe my work and how they could “ feel” the texture of the rain, or the fresh ground of Cambodia, it was a very intimate moment for me.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Nov, I am very excited for this new adventure for you in France, and hope that living there will inspire your work, and that you will continue to find beautiful ways to express your journeys and emotions.