Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reahu breaks silence

Reahu breaks silence

Reahu breaks silence

Koke Lor has found fame and notoriety difficult to deal with. His controversial art depicting semi-naked Apsaras has angered the Ministry of Women's Affairs, resulting in Cambodian access to his website being shut down alongside an inbox full of hate mail that included threats "to hunt him down". The 38-year-old graduate from the Chicago Art Institute sells his art mainly online. Koke Lor recently spoke with Luke Hunt.

 
Would you define your art as erotic, pornographic or neither?

A little bit erotic but definitely not pornographic. My art is quite tasteful. The women are sensual, but they are basically covered up.

Who is your intended audience?

Adults. This is not for children. It's for anyone who appreciates the female form.

Are you surprised the Cambodian government has taken such an active interest in you?

Very surprised. It's a form of art that is acceptable the world over. Look at the bars and prostitution here - people seem to find that acceptable, yet they block my website.

Do you intend to petition the block?

No. I could simply switch the IP address so locals can view it, but it's not worth it.

Critics say your art is insulting to Cambodian women and Cambodian culture.

Look at Angkor Wat - this is all I'm doing. I'm just putting colour on stone.

If you had an opportunity to sit down with the Ministry of Women's Affairs and make a case for the value of your art, do you think they would change their opinion of you?

No. Judging from their response so far, they would not change their opinion of me in a million years. They are unreasonable and can't be spoken with.

You have said the government has used you as a scapegoat. For what?

I am a scapegoat for the purists who want to draw attention away from issues they can't deal with, like the sex trade and prostitution. But I really don't want to get into Khmer politics because here you can go missing in the middle of the night.

Can any good come of the controversy your work has raised?

I have pushed the artists and their boundaries and exposed my techniques to local artists, and it is up to them.

Have you benefited from the controversy? You weren't famous before. Now you have been the subject of numerous articles and online debates.

In a sense, I have accomplished change. It's part of the art exchange I set up online through my websites, exchanging art ideas and techniques. So, in a sense I have accomplished my intention.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group