Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Marriage no barrier in couple’s collaboration

Marriage no barrier in couple’s collaboration

Marriage no barrier in couple’s collaboration


For most married couples it’s difficult enough keeping the lines of communication open at the best of times, let alone while collaborating on a project together, but Phin Sophorn, 26, and her husband, Mao Soviet, 31, former students at Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) in Battambang city, have done just that.    

“It took us a long time, up to four months, to do our first joint painting because my wife and I kept misunderstanding each other. For instance, I painted one picture, but then my wife erased it and painted another picture. I chose a dark colour, but my wife preferred a lighter colour,” Mao Soviet says.   

After they had completed their first painting together, the two artists found it easier to collaborate on further works because they could now understand each other’s feelings much better than before. Mao Soviet let his wife paint 50 to 70 per cent of their collaborations and, as he now understood what she was feeling, he finished them off.        

The couple are showing the fruits of their labours – seven sculptures, 19 paintings and one art installation – at the Top Art Gallery in Phnom Penh in an exhibition entitled Man and Wife from December 15 till the end of January. Three of the works on show are man-wife collaborations.  

Through their artworks, the couple wants to reveal the reality of living together in marriage. Living together before marriage is against Cambodian tradition, but Phin Sophorn and Mao Soviet were together for six years before they got hitched.

Before they married last March, they faced criticism from people, especially their neighbours.   

“Our neighbours always criticised us and spread rumours about us. The difficulties we faced in our joint paintings and the feelings around them are the same as the feelings after criticism from society,” Mao Soviet says.

Phin Sophorn said her parents didn’t allow her to stay with her husband at the beginning, but later on they didn’t have a problem this because they saw how much Mao Soviet loved her.

“In our society, we see some couples break up a short while after they get married. This is the problem because they don’t understand each other well. So to follow our tradition doesn’t really help us. We decided to live together before marriage and tried to understand each other. Now we make a happy family together,” she says.

Phin Sophorn doesn’t want to do more joint paintings after the three she has collaborated on with her husband. She feels that their styles have begun to influence each other.     

“Each person has different feelings. After painting together, I felt we were copying each other’s style. So I want this exhibition to be our first and  last joint paintings. I don’t want his style to influence mine,” Phin Sophorn says.

Phin Sophorn sometimes works as a painting teacher at PPS. The couple own Make Maek Art Space, a gallery in their home town, Battambang, where they show their work.   
“We don’t expect that art can be a good business in Cambodia, because people aren’t really interested in it. But I hope the exhibition will help more people understand about artwork,” Phin Sophorn says.  

Man and Wife opens at 6:30pm tomorrow at the Top Art Gallery, on the second floor, above the Riverhouse Lounge, at #155 E2, Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh) and will run until the end of January.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which

  • Phnom Penh smothered in smelly, dangerous haze as landfill fire continues burning

    A putrid haze that has bedeviled Phnom Penh since Monday night will likely continue as a landfill in Dangkao district continued to burn on Friday, creating health risks for the capital's residents. Workers at the Dangkao landfill on site on Friday attributed the fire, which