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

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Covid in Kingdom hits ‘critical point’

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia has reached a critical point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned, as cases surge with two more deaths and 265 infections reported over the weekend. On March 28 alone, the Ministry of Health recorded 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as