Kumnooh: Cambodia arts for week commencing 9 May 2023

Welcome to the return of Kumnooh – week two.  For those catching up: Kumnooh was originally established in ten years ago this month as a sister publication to LengPleng.com, the online music magazine for Cambodia, to provide basically a gig guide for the wider arts, covering art galleries, literature, dance, cinema, photography and so on. 

The new Kumnooh will be providing more interviews and profiles than in the past.  This week you can find below both our interview with Cambodian playwright Samithi Sok and the new regular mini-profile Drop Cloth (based on the LengPleng mini-profile Passing Chords) with our first participant Chhan Dina.  If you have an artist you would like to know more about, or an exhibition you would like to promote, we are always open to suggestions. 

You may be interested in becoming a Friend of Kumnooh, where we ask venues, artists and individuals to show their support by making a small monetary contribution to keep the lights on. In return for a boost in promotion, including a non-Facebook web page on our site for direct contact with the dedicated arts audience.  Check out our first example – Chhan Dina Gallery.  Queries by return email – fabianhipp@kumnooh.com.

This Week’s Kumnooh Feature Article

It happens once: Samithi Sok’s joy of theatre

Coming soon to Java Creative Café Tuol Tom Pong is a new play by playwright Samithi Sok, Wind Up Mice, co-directed by Samithi and Marika Els.  Samithi was good enough to sit down with Kumnooh this week to discuss the world of theatre. 

“This is the second play that I’ve written and directed,” says Samithi.  “Wind Up Mice is about a couple who are trapped in a time-loop and they are forced to relive their relationship over and over again from start to finish.  It explores ideas of free will, resentments and toxic relationships, trying to preserve what we can really hold on to. 

Read the full article here

Drop Cloth … a few things you might not know about…

Photo: David Flack

Chhan Dina.  A prominent figure in the Cambodian art scene, active in painting and sculpture, Dina also has been involved in Community of Artists events over the last couple of years as well as putting on many solo and group exhibitions.  Her gallery is located at the bottom of St 13, near the National Museum. 

Is there an artist or an aspect of the arts that you think is overrated?
Since 1975 Cambodia hasn’t had visual art, so the Cambodian audience for art is not well developed.  The art that many Cambodians think is very good, it’s not really very good.  You have to learn the basics, and then work very hard to make good art. 

Is there an artist or an aspect of the arts that you think is underrated?
Art is not just about what you can create, it is important to look at the history.  And young artists can learn a lot from older artists and the advice that they can give. 

An early art memory?
I remember when I was very young I would lay down and look at the clouds, all the interesting shapes.  And I would take the sap from trees – shines like a diamond! – and I made myself some jewellery from it, rings and necklaces.  Then my cousin and I would take clay from the road to make clay animals and clay dolls because we didn’t have many toys – I remember waiting for them to dry so that I could play.  One last one – when I walked home from school I would always see a man standing by the road painting, and I would stop and watch. 

The last thing you had to eat?
Warren made me scrambled eggs on toast. 

Where did you do your studies?
My teacher Ron, an American, taught me all about art, the basics and how to use my imagination. 

When did you first leave Cambodia?
When I was young I went to Singapore, about 15 years old, with my teacher Ron, to visit museums and galleries.  I was so nervous flying in an aeroplane for the first time. 

A book or movie you keep going back to?
I like to watch scary movies – they make me not afraid of anything. 

What languages do you speak?
Khmer and English. 

A country that you would like to visit?
So many places…. USA!

Something people might be surprised to know about you?
When I was young a friend of mine from Singapore gave me a guitar – it was taller than me – and for many years I played guitar every day.  Music remains an inspiration for me. 

What advice would you give to a young artist starting out? 
It is easy to say I want to be an artist but to actually become an artist is very hard.  Art is from your heart, you really have to create something that you love, and put your soul into your art. 

For a more rock’n’roll view of Phnom Penh and the wider Cambodian music scene, please check out our sister publication lengpleng.com, the long running live music gig guide.

Send a ‘subscribe’ email to fabianhipp@kumnooh.com to receive Kumnooh in your inbox every Tuesday lunchtime.

Are we missing something?  Let us know at fabianhipp@kumnooh.com.
See you about…

Fabian Hipp

Event listings:

Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, and continuing through the weekend, Cannes in Phnom Penh, a selection of films from the festival, will be screened at Institut francais du Cambodge and Major Cinepex.  
More info

Pop up market Psar Bassac will be held 13 and 14 May at community art studio Rong Cheang.  Arts, crafts and workshops – including Terrazzo with recycled glass.
More info

Coming to Meta House on 17 May, The Art of Drag – “Five thoughtfully curated photo sequences capturing the essence of drag performance.”
More info

Later this month – 19, 20, 26 and 27 May – at Java Creative Café Tuol Tom Pong, an independent production of the play Wind Up Mice by Khmer playwright Samithi Sok.  For more information, including ticketing, check the Facebook event here.

On 20 May, a closing night celebration for Srey Art exhibition for International Women’s Day, featuring the works of Dahlia Phi, Ny Vannak, Raphaelle Martinez, Kari Podboy and Marie Hill.
More info

Also on 20 May, The Piano Trilogy 1 at Meta House featuring Christina Sen from Cambodia, Philippe Javelle from France and Gabriele Faja from Italy.  7 pm. 
More info

Friday 26, Sra’Art presents an open mic hosted by Initial G, from 7 pm.
More info

Saturday 27 at Seekers Spirits is A-N-T-O-P-I-A / PAPERS – a mixed media participatory installation with performances, exhibitions and the Kampot Playboys.  “Videos and photographs on urban transformation presented by Pisey Kosal, Miguel Jeronimo and Carlo Santoro will stand alongside collages and paintings by three acclaimed artists from three different generations, Suos Sodavy, Chhim Sothy and Chhan Dina.  They will open perspectives on today’s life in the Cambodian cities.  Also join us for a tribute to Srey Bandaul, celebrated among the founding fathers of contemporary art in Battambang province.”

And coming next month to Meta HouseAsia South East-Short Film Festival 2023.


Chhan Dina Gallery
An on-going display of the work of Chhan Dina work from throughout her career is augmented, on a rolling schedule, with works of contemporary masters and up-and-coming painters.  For appointment to view call 012 968 582.
More info

Erick Gonzalez Gallery/L’Atelier d’Erick Gonzalez
Exhibition by Tytaart (Cambodia) and Nicolas GUYOT (France). “A bridge that takes us from the visible to the imaginary, from the concrete to the conceptual, and finally from the personal to the universal.”   Until 22 May. 
Media: Cambodge Mag (FR)

The Gallerist
A continuously rolling collection of works by mostly Cambodian artists.  Currently showing is Roots, the very first exhibition in Cambodia of French Cambodian artist Ramya Chuon.
More info

Meta House
Uncontemporary Contemporaries, gouaches by Ernst Altmann, featuring Run. “Ernst Altmann is a German painter based in Phnom Penh. We invite you to his new show at Meta House, in collaboration with Cambodian self-taught artist Run. “We are rather uncommon artist friends, coming from different corners of this world”, writes Altmann. “Yet, the results of our collaboration show plenty of similarities. I meet Run for the first time in 2014 when he became my assistant during a shadow puppet play project at Meta House. Back then, we could not communicate because of the language. However, Run isn´t much of a talker anyway. The level of understanding we developed nevertheless amazed me.”

Ny Vannak
Small studio gallery in Lanka Lane, off St 51 in BKK1 featuring the work of Ny Vannak.
Visit the gallery by appointment –  WhatsApp/ Telegram 099 509 412 / 0978572328

Romchiek 5 Art Space
Battambang contemporary art studio.  Rolling exhibitions.  

Sa Sa Art Projects
Rebuild by Kong Dara, Leng Kimsreang and Soung Pheakdey on show through to 17 May.
More info

Tribe Cambodia presents the opening of Elements of the Lotus by Ponleu.   Until end of June. 
Media: Cambodge Mag (FR)   Sovrin Magazine (KH)
More info

Space Four Zero
Prints, paintings, vintage posters, pop art, CDs and vinyl.  Open daily. 
More info

Srey Art exhibition for International Women’s Day, featuring the works of Dahlia Phi,
Ny Vannak, Raphaelle Martinez, Kari Podboy and Marie Hill. Until 20 May.
More info

Regular events, classes, sessions:

Drink & Draw every Monday at Cloud, 6.30 pm. 
More info

Tuesdays, 4 – 4.45 pm at Giving Tree International School, after school art lessons by Mirasol Aguila. 

Every Wednesday Comedy in Cambodia present Stand Up Social at Speak Easy Theater.  7.30 pm.   

Kids Art Club, Saturdays at Botanico, presented by Sra’Art, 10 am and 11 am. 
More info

N o w h e r e Art Studio
A range of arts and crafts workshops at different times.  Saturday 13 May is Hand-Building Ceramics For Beginners, 10 am.  

Khmer Architecture Tours conducts Sunday architecture tours in Phnom Penh to promote the understanding of modern architecture in Cambodia, focusing on buildings erected after independence in 1953, described as ‘New Khmer Architecture’, while setting these in the historical context of Phnom Penh.  Here is the schedule for May.


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