Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Modern Khmer art: The Tale of the Storm Goddess



Modern Khmer art: The Tale of the Storm Goddess

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The two young artists sought to bring new depth to mythological characters with their digital art. oung dane

Modern Khmer art: The Tale of the Storm Goddess

Perhaps most in the Kingdom know of the folktale called Moni Mekhala which tells the origin of thunderstorms. Two young art students, however, have refreshed the story by bringing it to life through their digital design skills.

Uddam Pen and Socheata Chhea, working under the names Apsvra and Penkuro, have collaborated on an exhibition called Thunder and Rain or The Tale of the Storm Goddess, which illustrates the tale through digital works of art.

Both self-trained capital artists believe that the Kingdom’s arts community has the power to strengthen national identity while simultaneously updating traditional forms.

Pen, 22, an architectural engineering student and recent graduate of Zaman University, draws and paints semi-realistic human subjects with influences from Japanese anime art. He has explored various methods but remains steadfast in his identity as a Cambodian creator.

Chhea , 18, a recent high school graduate, usually works with pencil, ink, and Photoshop. Her work shows figurative elements and blends digital and traditional techniques.

This exhibition is the second that the two artists have collaborated in. They aim to continue blending traditional Khmer patterns with their signature modern art twists.

“The unique point of this art exhibition is all about digital methods. Its a bit different from our first exhibition,” Pen says of the event that was weeks in the making."

Chhea says the exhibition allowed them to interpret the original folktale in a new way, and develop the characters that were already established.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Socheata Chhea and Uddam Pen display one of the pieces in their new exhibition. oung dane

“We chose this theme because the main character, Moni Mekhala, is a very cool character. She’s got extremely awesome superpowers. She can fly, create, and control lightning. She’s a face that’s found in few Asian cultures ... it’s always a good feeling to see a character in the media that identifies with your race, country and culture,” Chhea says.

In the folktale, lightning goddess Moni Mekhala won a crystal ball after a challenge with Ream Eyso. Bolts are produced by her crystal ball and thunder by Eyso’s axe.

“I want to engage with Cambodian youth. I think Cambodian youth are changing their mindsets and beginning to exchange ideas,” Pen says, adding that art is deeply rooted in Western culture, but it is still growing in the Kingdom.

“There is always a lack of Asian or Cambodian representation in popular media. I want to see more of it. Cambodia seems to have always been known as the Khmer Rouge country. It’s not a very great identity,” Chhea said.

Since premiering last Sunday, the exhibition is open to the public for one month. Thunder and Rain by Apsvra and Penkuro is being presented at the Bong The Gallery on street 240.

MOST VIEWED

  • Historic Battambang town bans billboards

    The Battambang town administration informed all house and business owners in Svay Por commune to remove all billboards by August 1 as it is preparing to submit the town to UNESCO for inclusion on its historical cultural heritage list. Its July 25 notice said all signage was

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Khmer influence growing in Hollywood

    The rare success of The Cleaning Lady – an American TV series which stars Cambodian-French Hollywood actress Elodie Yung – sheds some light on Asian immigrants to the US, yet a significant representation gap of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) exists both on screen and behind

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of