He runs a delightful little brick-and-mortar store stacked floor to ceiling with the most incredible paintings. He paints every day. Huge paintings. Small paintings. Paintings about Cambodian history, religion, and art. His name is Art – that’s how he signs his work.
Why the pseudonym? I didn’t find out. However, during the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, the majority of artists and musicians were murdered, and those who survived had to go into hiding. Today, art and music flourish brilliantly in Cambodian culture, and it is a reflection of unwavering confidence in his calling when a man calls himself just one word that in recent history could threaten his existence: Art.
While he could supply his majestic collection of art to street vendors scattered across the city for more exposure and sales, he prefers to sell all his work in his own shop. Why? Copycat paintings are endemic among vendors (same-same!), and Mr. Art wants to preserve the originality of his paintings and put them directly into the hands of his patrons.
Meanwhile, his wife works at a juice shop in the neighbourhood while his sister takes care of the shop when he is upstairs painting.
Shopkeeper Stories is a photographic documentary of small business owners and their trades around the world, sharing their tips and insights. Come along on the journey on Instagram and Facebook @ShopkeeperStories