Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Famous Mexicans pay a visit to the Kingdom in photo exhibition




Famous Mexicans pay a visit to the Kingdom in photo exhibition

Cambodian artist Sokuntevy Oeur cites Frida Kahlo as one of her inspirations. Photo supplied
Cambodian artist Sokuntevy Oeur cites Frida Kahlo as one of her inspirations. Photo supplied

Famous Mexicans pay a visit to the Kingdom in photo exhibition

For those with a taste for cultural confusion, a photo exhibition on two of Mexico’s most famous visual artists – supported by the country’s ambassador to Cambodia, who resides in Hanoi – will open next week in the gallery at Phnom Penh’s German cultural centre, Meta House.

But Complicities: Frida and Diego has a pretty clear focus: the tumultuous partnership between painter Frida Kahlo and public muralist Diego Rivera and the social context in which they worked, when art became a means for change and national identity. There are 37 black-and-white photos in the exhibition – many taken by famous artists in their own right – with captions in Khmer.

Ambassador Sara Valdés Bolaño and cultural attaché Martín Muñoz Ledo organised Frida and Diego with the help of the Royal University of Fine Arts’ Char printmaking studio, which was founded by a Mexican artist in 2011, and has facilitated artistic exchange between Mexico and the Kingdom ever since.

But studio professor Fernando Aceves Humana was quick to point out that Mexican art history isn’t exactly at the forefront of the curriculum – even the work of Frida and Diego. “They’re not very well known in Cambodia,” he said. “So I think a show in Phnom Penh about their life is an excellent idea.”

Frida Kahlo’s parents referred to her and Diego Rivera as ‘the elephant and the dove’. Photo supplied
Frida Kahlo’s parents referred to her and Diego Rivera as ‘the elephant and the dove’. Photo supplied

“I found the exhibition interesting, but especially Frida,” explained Nico Mesterharm, Meta House’s director. “She was a female artist in a country where female artists struggle, as in Cambodia.”

Mesterharm highlighted one Cambodian artist in particular who had taken Kahlo as an inspiration: Sokuntevy Oeur, who currently resides in Berlin. “She’s always liked Frida,” he said with a smile.

It shows in Tevy’s work: for years, the 32-year-old Battambang artist – like Kahlo – has explored taboo themes in her surrealist acrylic portraits: from homosexuality, to prostitution, to Western excess. She’s even been known to paint a few female Buddhas.

Frida and Diego opens on the heels of a blockbuster show focused on the couple in Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales. For its organisers, the chance to bring just a small slice of their lives to Phnom Penh seems an equal success.

Frida and Diego: Complicities opens on Tuesday, July 5, at Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard, at 6pm.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped