Angkor treasures are the focus of a special exhibition hosted at Singapore Asian Civilisations Museum with unique pieces coming for the first time in Asia from Paris Guimet Museum of Asian Arts. A major event for Singapore visitors which is likely to contribute to strengthen the fame of Angkor temples.
The special exhibition Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City. Masterpieces of the Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet brings to the first time to Southeast Asia masterpieces of the Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet, showcasing more than 140 sculptures, watercolours, drawings, and historic memorabilia from one of the premier Asian art museums in Europe.
Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City is part of a special program launched by the Asian Civilisations Museum named” Year of Southeast Asia”. It features exhibitions dedicated to Southeast Asian art, culture, and heritage.
The special exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Guimet Museum, and features the largest-ever display of its masterpieces in Asia. Objects range from exquisite Khmer sculptures architectural elements in stone and bronze dating as far back as the 6th century, to drawings, rare photographs, and memorabilia made by the French in the 1800s and 1900s. This is also a première for the ACM which never organised since created a decade ago an exhibition celebrating Angkor.
Mr Kennie Ting, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum, said, “Khmer civilisation is one of the greatest in Southeast Asia and the world, and Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We wanted to bring this world heritage to Singaporean audiences, so they can experience first-hand both the beauty and timelessness of Khmer Art, as well as how Angkor and the Khmers captured the imagination of the world.
“ACM’s mission is to explore encounters and connections between civilisations in Asia, and so this exhibition has a cross-cultural, East-West perspective, presenting not only the splendours of Khmer art and civilisation, but also works of art related to the French encounter with Angkor and their reintroducing Angkor to the world in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The exhibition is accompanied by contemporary artworks by a Cambodian artist, as well as an academic conference, festival, talks, and other programmes. We hope local audiences and visitors gain a stronger understanding of Khmer and Cambodian heritage and culture, and are inspired to go visit Angkor itself, if they haven’t already.”
Angkor’s renown outside Asia grew largely due to the French missions of 1866 and 1873 and highlighted by French explorer and artist Louis Delaporte, and photographs by his countryman Émile Gsell. The first section of the exhibition showcases photographs, watercolours, prints, architectural drawings, rubbings, and mouldings of temple facades made by Delaporte, Gsell and other French explorers. They opened Angkor to European minds and feed fantasy and dream about the destination. They nurture European adventurers and then travellers to go to the discovery of one of the most intriguing site in Asia.
The second part of the exhibition features masterpieces of Khmer art from the Guimet Museum. More than 50 sculptures provide an overview of progression of Khmer art and artistry, illustrating the skill of Khmer craftsmen as they transformed raw stone into striking sculptures that capture delicate facial features, elaborate drapery, and the soft realism of the body. Visitors will be able to examine up the exquisite pieces that depict the various deities from Angkor’s Hindu and Buddhist pantheon, while learning about Khmer faith and cosmology.
All is exquisitely presented with Cambodian art painted on the walls, adding a hint of romance and mystery to the exhibition.Old maps, original newspapers from French collections, special lighting in the various halls turn the exhibition into an emotional discovery of Khmer arts.
In relation to the exhibition, a festival is also organised in Singapre. On May 25 to 27, the Angkor Encore Festival will highlight Cambodian performing arts and showcase the rebirth of traditions and arts in the Kingdom.
The exhibition ‘Angkor:Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City’ will be on display at ACM until July 22, 2018. Curators tours are organised as well as workshops are organised up to the last day of the exhibition. Information are available on ACM website under www.acm.org.sg