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

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • Transport minister requests free trial of Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway

    The Ministry of Public Works and Transport held discussions with the company constructing the expressway from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province to allow drivers to test the road free of charge before an official toll is set. While inspecting the progress of its construction