at a glance
Faces Faces Faces, an exhibition of portrait photography by Arjay Stevens at the FCC Phnom Penh through January 14, 2007. An reception with the photographer will be held on opening night, Friday December 8 at 6:30 p.m.
See an online preview of Arjay Stevens’ “Faces Faces Faces”.
Perhaps even more so than the spires of Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s magnetic charm lies in the warm and smiling faces of its people. In the smiles of the young and old, the hope and history of Cambodia is recorded and the character of the nation is etched.
In his exhibit at the FCC Phnom Penh, German photographer Arjay Stevens explores that character with a series of portraits taken during his extensive travels and extended stays in the country.
Titled “Faces Faces Faces,” Stevens’ collection of portraits range from beautifully simple to artistically complex.
In one image, Stevens frames the face of a young girl about 8 years old against a solid blue background. Against the azure backdrop, the simple composition gives the effect of a passport photo.
The contrast lies in the little girl’s expression. Her piercing eyes and pursed lips give the impression of someone much older, and the smile she effects seems to indicate a patience worn thinner than her young years would suggest.
In another shot, a young actor in Chaplin-esque makeup and a mop wig kneels with his hands together. In the background a beautiful women wails. Taken on a television set somewhere, the photograph captures a colorful and curios moment on stage. But the contrast between comedy and crying, and the larger metaphors to which that juxtaposition alludes, gives the photograph a sense of depth far greater than simple portraiture typically conveys.
Stevens says he finds people the most challenging of all subjects to photograph. But that challenge is what also makes portraits the most interesting, he says. His exhibit at the FCC represents a hand-picked selection of favorites from his vast library of work.
In addition to the FCC Phnom Penh, Stevens’ work can also be viewed at the New Art Gallery, near Kapko Market, and the German embassy.