Batia Sarem Gallery is the culmination of a project which Lyvann Loeuk and Yves Zlotowski have been developing for three years. Three years of coming and going between France and Cambodia, three years of exciting discussions, as well as doubts and sleepless nights. It all began when we met in the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighbourhood, where our two galleries are located only a few metres away from each other. Friendship, a shared passion for Cambodia, the shock of discovering works by Cambodian contemporary artists resulted in this space, which is opening its doors in December 2018 in the centre of Siem Reap.
Why this gallery, why here and why now? First and foremost because of our fascination with today’s Cambodian artists. The first encounter was with «Mon Boulet», a work by Sareth Svay, exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and seen in 2015. A new discovery and something that just clicked. An installation at once simple, strange, even brutal, which one guesses is from Cambodia but which, apart from its specific context, has an impact on any viewer. The sphere, which Sareth hauled along muddy streets, took us to Batia Sarem: to – very rare – exhibitions of Khmer artists in France, to gallery and studio visits in Phnom Penh, to Battambang and to Siem Reap and the organisation of exhibitions in Paris showing work by Yim Maline, Nov Cheanick, Chat Piersath, Theanly Chov, Kim Hak and Sovan Philong.
Batia Sarem was born out of these encounters and is intended as a home for the artworks, a place that has no other mission than to showcase the artists. Siem Reap seemed to us the ideal city for the project. Collectors we met in Europe and Asia have visited Siem Reap and will return. Alongside the magnificent heritage Temples of Angkor, contemporary Cambodian art is flourishing. It seemed obvious to us that this work should be shown to the city’s many visitors, giving them an opportunity to understand what these contemporary artists have to say. Siem Reap, a green city on a human scale, is still a peaceful place to live despite the mass tourism.
We will be organising a demanding programme of exhibitions at Batia Sarem, but want it to be a welcoming place. We have made it our mission to show only artists and works we like, which we would collect ourselves. We want to apply the same standards we have applied in France. Not because we have any pretensions, but because we want to show the works under the best possible exhibition and conservation conditions. Finally we want to produce a catalogue for each exhibition, a vital factor in preserving the memory of the artists. For us, Siem Reap is a gateway from where we can take the work to collectors in Asia, Europe or elsewhere, via art fairs, gallery or museum exhibitions. But we must not forget that this space will be open to Cambodians: to the artists of course, but also students, children, passers-by…
May Batia Sarem enjoy long-lasting success. The name pays homage to the memory of two women whose coming together is an embodiment of our gallery. Batia, Yves’s maternal grandmother, who escaped anti-Semitism in Poland – the horrors of which she never forgot – for Israel. Sarem, Lyvann’s paternal grandmother, a woman dedicated to the arts, a professor of classical ballet who perished in the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. Let their spirits watch over this space. Through them, most importantly, it is our parents we are thinking of by opening Batia Sarem.
Lyvann Loeuk and Yves Zlotowski
Before becoming a Gallery Owner, Yves had a career as an Economist, specialist in emerging countries, including 7 years as a Chief Economist of the Coface group. Through his travels, he developed a passion for contemporary art in Southeast Asia and collects photography. Since 2015, he runs with his father Michel the Zlotowski Gallery that the latter founded in 1998. The Zlotowski Gallery is dedicated to modern art and has specialized, among other things, in the painted work of Le Corbusier. It is present at the most important art fairs in the world, in particular at Fiac, ArtBasel or TEFAF.
After 3 years spent in the audiovisual sector in one of the TF1 group’s most important production companies, Lyvann took over in 2002 the Artistic Direction of Galerie Lee, a gallery founded in 1995 by his father Lysath Loeuk. Together and from their Khmer origins, they decided to focus their programming on the contemporary Cambodian artistic scene, currently in full expansion but still little represented in France. Galerie Lee exhibited drawings by Yim Maline in April 2017, paintings by Theanly Chov in October 2017, two major artists of this new Cambodian wave and presented the work of photographer Sovan Philong in May 2018.
B A T I A S A R E M G A L L E R Y | Bamboo Street, Wat Damnak, Sala Kamreuk | Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia