"Traveling brings to you a lot of various influences: cultural, moral, and architectural. But I always keep in mind to catch (people's) attention and reflect the local context. For me, an art piece in public belongs to the people who experience seeing it."
French artist Chifumi Krohom arrived in Cambodia for a project but discovered a thriving art scene in Phnom Penh. He decided to stay and create colourful murals that draws inspiration and celebrates Asian culture.
What made you decide to move and base yourself in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?
Once I graduated from art school in France, I had a massive interest in travelling the world. It was for me the best solution to radically grow my inspiration and spread my message. Luckily a website sponsored me and asked me to work on a bunch of videos showing the art installations I would create during my travels. That’s how it all started. The initial deal was to start in India and finish in Australia but in the end, I never got further than Cambodia.
What's your inspiration behind the hand gestures and bright colours in your murals?
Hand gestures and bold graphics settled very fast in my early search for a graphical style. It became a means for recognition. The colours came since I’m living in Asia. Before I would explore only black and white and quite often contrast with an aesthetic of violence. But traveling brings a lot of various influences. Cultural, moral and architectural. So now I keep in mind the idea to catch people's attention and try to reflect the local context and atmosphere.
How has the recent pandemic affected you?
Well, for 2 years I’m used to painting in a different country every 2 months or so. It was part of my creative process, constantly meeting new influences and digging out roots at the same time. Now with the pandemic, I have to change. I visited 5 countries since January but then crossing borders became difficult.
I’m now working on the preparation of a 'pilgrimage' back to France which will include several murals. So I think this confinement gives me the opportunity to really dig deep into myself and be more open to spirituality.
When did you first develop an interest in street art?
As a kid, I had a fascination with murals. I can’t really relate when it all started, but for sure the concept of free expression (and illegal) dug something out in me.
Do you remember the very first paid job you had?
Yeah! I proposed my services to a local cinema and I was so surprised they accept a mural on their building. I remember also how little money I asked for!
What is your favorite piece of work you’ve done and why?
For me, an art piece in the public space belongs to the people who see it!
My favourites pieces are not about the quality of the artwork, but more about all the emotional parts of the creative process. Who took part in the project, how fun was the interaction with locals and volunteers and how deep we create links with the project managers.
But I can say recently I’m quite proud to be part of the Varanasi Art Project, I was lucky enough to paint a massive mural on a main wall of the holly city.
Do you have a specific workflow?
As I settled in Cambodia quite a long time ago and try to push the street art scene, I have to stick to the materials that can be found and used here. Only acrylic paint, brush, and rollers are available, so I stick to this.
What challenges do you face today that are different than when you started?
It is like a continuity. I don’t think I can see a difference from the beginning.
In a way, the limits are always the same and they are the ones you build yourself in your own mind. I believe in the law of attraction, I can’t explain it but most of the commissions I have are coming a few days or weeks after I expressed the idea to paint such a place. It happens to me all the time, even if it sounds like magic.
For more of his works, check out his website and Instagram. If you need to commission him or you need something from our creative studio: motion graphics / animation / shooting / editing please email us here or schedule a conversation with us.