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

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia