Aspir­ing ar­chi­tect-turned-artist de­rives com­fort from paint­ing

The Phnom Penh Post - - LIFESTYLE - Pann Rethea Phnom Penh

IT SOUNDS strange for some­one who stud­ied draw­ing and de­sign­ing build­ings to be­come a suc­cess­ful pain­ter. But this is ex­actly what hap­pened to Teang Borin or bet­ter known as Din. While he grad­u­ated in ar­chi­tec­ture, the de­sign­ing and draw­ing skills that he learned in univer­sity are not what earns him a liv­ing to­day.

Born in Kam­pot to a teacher fa­ther and home­maker mother, Din com­pleted his high school in the prov­ince be­fore mov­ing to Phnom Penh to pur­sue his Bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture at Nor­ton Univer­sity in 2001.

Grad­u­at­ing in 2005, he first gained ex­pe­ri­ence in a num­ber of firms be­fore join­ing Yianko As­so­ciates as an ar­chi­tect. He re­mained there from 2008 to 2014.

Be­ing an ar­chi­tect, he says, is rather chal­leng­ing. As he works in a team, he needed to spend many hours on a sin­gle project which could take months or years to com­plete, no thanks to the many re­vi­sions and changes that take place as part of the process of de­sign­ing a build­ing.

How­ever, be­ing a pain­ter is more recre­ational for him. He can en­joy his soli­tude as he works alone and at his own pace. There are no fickle minded clients to deal with, no dead­lines to meet and best of all, he spends less time to com­plete a work of art.

“While most would think that paint­ing is not as lu­cra­tive as be­ing an ar­chi­tect, I wish to dif­fer as I could al­ways de­pend on it to earn a good liv­ing.

“I have been paint­ing since my pri­mary school days when my school­mates ap­proached me to paint some­thing for them. I guess my in­ter­est in paint­ing had been spurred since child­hood as I al­ways saw my fa­ther paint one thing or an­other as part of his job as a teacher,” Din says.

Since learn­ing to paint in pri­mary school, his in­ter­est was al­ways drawn to tra­di­tional Ap­sara paint­ings. None­the­less, he of­ten painted more scenes of ru­ral set­tings as this was what his clients de­manded.

Hav­ing re­alised his paint­ing tal­ent and dream to be­come an artist since child­hood, Din says he earns a bet­ter liv­ing to­day as a pain­ter rather than an ar­chi­tect.

Even­tu­ally the 37-year old ar­chi­tect-turned- artist opened a paint­ing shop, Din Art Gallery, three years ago. He now counts lo­cal and for­eign art lovers among his many clients.

Apart from his for­mal ed­uca- tion in ar­chi­tec­ture, the suc­cess of his art busi­ness makes Din a one of a kind in­di­vid­ual who had man­aged to be suc­cess­ful in two ca­reers.

“I knew I loved paint­ing since I was five years old which is why I have con­tin­ued to paint un­til to­day. Af­ter more than 30 years of paint­ing, I just opened this shop three years ago.”

Hav­ing gained a rep­u­ta­tion for his work in con­tem­po­rary paint­ings, Din says his art shop keeps him busier com­pared to his ca­reer as an ar­chi­tect.

“Paint­ing keeps me busy ev­ery day, so I al­ways have new work dis­played for sale. But for my work as an ar­chi­tect, the skills I gained are lit­tle prac­tised.

“This is be­cause I don’t ac­cept much ar­chi­tec­ture work as I am pas­sion­ate about my de­signs and of­ten have dif­fer­ences of opin­ion with clients,” he says.

Cur­rently, most of Din’s mas­ter­pieces are con­tem­po­rary paint­ings which com­bine tra­di­tional and mod­ern forms of art. He uses var­i­ous tech­niques to paint Ap­sara, dancers, and scenery and these have be­come pop­u­lar with art lovers around the world.

“My con­tem­po­rary paint­ings are pop­u­lar with for­eign­ers. About 70 per cent of my clients are for­eign, with the rest be­ing Kh­mer,” he says.

The con­tem­po­rary paint­ings by this ar­chi­tect also come at an af­ford­able price tag. A con­tem­po­rary paint­ing, for in­stance, starts at $30 and could go up to $3,000 de­pend­ing on size.

How­ever, his mas­ter­pieces earn him a lot. One of his 60 x 120-cm paint­ing can sell for $600. On an av­er­age month, he earns more $2,000.

To­day, the out­stand­ing qual­ity of his artis­tic works have been recog­nised to the ex­tent that the Na­tional Kh­mer Legacy Mu­seum in St. Paul city, Min­nesota, US, dis­played his mas­ter­piece at the 2018 Fes­ti­val of Na­tions at the River Cen­tre in St. Paul in May. Artists from some 200 coun­tries took part in the dis­play.

Din says tra­di­tional Kh­mer paint­ings have a high de­mand lo­cally and abroad. Tra­di­tional style paint­ings re­quire the most at­ten­tion to de­tail as they ex­em­plify the Kh­mer iden­tity to the rest of the world.

Din says un­der­stand­ing Kh­mer cul­ture will give more value to tra­di­tional paint­ings. “Giv­ing value to tra­di­tional paint­ings is on the rise from our Kh­mer brethren and for­eign­ers.

“I am re­ally strug­gling to keep up with the large num­ber of or­ders that I of­ten fear I can­not fin­ish a par­tic­u­lar job on time for cus­tomers.”


A com­bi­na­tion of pho­to­graphs show­ing ar­chi­tect-turned-artist Teang Borin and some of his art­work at his gallery in Phnom Penh.

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