The Phnom Penh Look at Java Arts

Close-up of women depicted on a hand-painted beauty sign in Cambodia.

Photo: Jim Tulloch

Cambodian hand-painted signs are clearly in vogue. Today sees the opening of the first of two exhibitions centred on the topic in Phnom Penh, the second being my own which will open on 4th December. (There is also the Fowler Museum exhibition happening in Los Angeles so it’s not just in Cambodia where these signs are gaining recognition…)

‘The Phnom Penh Look’ takes a focused look at the world of beauty signs through the lens of photographer Jim Tulloch. His collection of images has been donated to the child protection NGO Friends International who have taken them as inspiration for a product range called The Phnom Penh Look.

It seems that Jim’s motivation is along similar lines to mine and others’, especially in the sense of trying to capture something in decline. Like I do in the book, he also shares his thoughts on what these signs represent of Cambodian culture:

“…hairdresser signs seemed to be everywhere. This itself said something about Phnom Penh and the aspiration of its population to look smart, fashionable, at whatever level they could afford.”

The exhibition runs at Java Arts from today until 9th December and I’ll be going for a look as soon as I’m next in Phnom Penh. You can see 25 of the images featured on the exhibition’s information page alongside more insights from Jim Tulloch.

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