Cambodia’s contemporary art scene is flourishing with the growing presence of a legion of talented artists – some of them self-taught and having braved years of struggling to gain recognition for their work.
One of these emerging artists – Nak Noy – started out with only a pencil and a notebook, drawing imaginary doodle-style figures that the most conservative people in his hometown would never consider art.
Noy has kept some of his best drawings for his personal portfolio, which he has shown to various curators across Cambodia and one of them gave him the opportunity to shine in a gallery in 2018.
“I was more than happy to finally show what I have to the world for the very first time. It was a huge success and it helped make who I am today because through this exposure I was found by Tribe Cambodia and joined their roster of talented international artists, ”said the Siem Reap based artist.
His passion for art started when he was in kindergarten and he spent most of his time covering his notebook with different drawings that were technically beyond what the average child of that age would normally be able to do. make.
Noy believes that it was his inner passion for creativity that led him to become an artist, as it allowed him to stay true to himself even though he was not earning money or the respect of the community. in general.
Noy tells the Post that he always knew he loved to draw, but wasn’t sure if he was good enough to make it a lifelong work of it.
“Since I was in kindergarten, I just take my pencil and draw over everything. I always knew I was in love with art, but I was still hesitant to take the plunge, ”says Noy.
After graduating from high school, Noy worked as a receptionist rather than continuing his education. His friends and others who had tried to motivate him to pursue an artistic career were disappointed with his decision and believed he had missed a crucial part of his life.
“After graduating from high school in 2016, I was still unsure of what I really wanted to do. I tried looking for fine art universities, but found an old style of classical art that really isn’t my cup of tea. My art is more of a contemporary style, ”recalls Noy.
Noy had a long-term plan and deep in his mind he was still determined to fulfill his dream of becoming an artist, regardless of his education. As he continued to work, he always made sure to devote a lot of time to the practice of his drawing.
The journey to becoming a professional artist is never easy. Noy’s unique art style made it clear that he is enormously talented, but people often react negatively to new and unfamiliar things at first.
From 2016 to 2018, Noy worked on his portfolio and built his collection of drawings, remaining patient and biding his time until he finally had ten amazing pieces that he decided to use as an introduction to the world of. art.
“I took these ten works of art with me from place to place in Siem Reap and even tried to contact galleries in Phnom Penh, looking for a place to showcase my work. I have not received any awnsers. I kept looking and finally I was greeted in a little cafe called Red Fox Espresso to exhibit for three months, ”Noy explains.
The 21-year-old is now a full-time artist for the contemporary art gallery Tribe Cambodia. He has exhibited his work to a wider audience nine times in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and – including limited editions – has sold over a hundred pieces.
Almost all of the buyers are foreigners and some are his expatriate friends who have always supported him a lot.
Noy says his clients have told him that they love the fact that each piece of art has its own story and meaning and that they tend to be very versatile and easily fit into any style. interior decoration.
Noy’s artwork are distinctive and vibrant contemporary pieces with a fantastic 3D doodle style using a subdued palette of blues and greens. Most of his works involve human figures while reflecting nature using designs that combine leaves, flowers and rubies.
The highest priced Nak Noy coin currently available in the Tribe gallery is priced at $ 5,000. The two by two meter painting is titled Mother Earth. Noy says it’s the piece he’s most proud of right now because it perfectly reflects the latest evolution of his unique style of fantasy art that springs from natural elements.
As an artist, Noy says he enjoys creating art with themes that reflect what’s going on in society and recently he has created works that examine how society relates and portray girls and women. women.
“I take a lot of inspiration from my mother. I have seen her working so hard for our family and it makes me want to describe her story in my art to show that I appreciate the diligence she has worked with all her life out of love for us, ”Noy said.
As his art began to progress, Noy decided to attend the art school of the non-profit organization Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, an organization whose mission is to provide a stimulating and creative environment where young people can. access quality arts training, education and social support to help restore the culture and identity of Cambodia that was damaged or destroyed during the Khmer Rouge years.
Unfortunately, only a month and a half after starting his studies there, Covid closed the school – at least for now. That’s why Noy still considers himself a self-taught artist, but Noy is excited about what the future holds.
“I am more than grateful to finally live my childhood dream. Being an artist also provides me with a platform to express myself and give my opinion about society and the things that matter through my art, ”he says.
Noy says it’s hard to plan big things in the midst of a pandemic – especially doing shows abroad – but it’s still definitely a goal for him and something he’s striving for. ‘achieve.
“Therefore, all I have to do for now is continue to create art. I want to spread my name abroad, and we are working on it. I hope there will be a chance to get involved in the fashion world because I really want to bring my designs to life this way.
“I would like to tell the young generation who have just entered the art world to be patient. I saw that most of them were eager to see their works sold immediately after each one was finished, but that’s not how it works. It takes years for people to learn more about your art and accept it in their hearts, ”says Noy.
For more information on Nak Noy, he can be contacted via his Facebook page @ naknoy.art.