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Cambodian art renaissance

“Only someone who has suffered the deepest of misfortunes is capable of experiencing the heights of felicity”

May 16, 2020
Cambodian art renaissance
Owner/founder of KBach Arts, Tony Francis

The beautiful quote from Alexandre Dumas eloquently summarises the remarkable renaissance happening today within the Cambodian art scene.

Up until the 1960s, Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia due to the groundbreaking art, music and film being produced in the Kingdom. The following decade Cambodia lost this reputation due to the tragic Khmer Rouge regime, which oversaw the death of 90% of Cambodia’s artists. Pearls naturally take at least seven years to form and mature, and the same can be said for Cambodia’s art industry.

Last December saw the second year of the KBach Artist competition at KBach Bash, where over 100 young Cambodian artists entered canvases, wall murals and sculptures, all vying for a chance to impress some of Cambodia’s most renowned artists: Chhim Sothy, Chhan Dina and Em Riem, the 2019 KBach Arts judges.

2019 KBach Artist judges Chhim Sothy, Chhan Dina and Em Riem, with 2018 KBach Artist winner Hour Soben
KBach Artist winner 2019 (canvas division), Mouern Oun

“Only someone who has suffered the deepest of misfortunes is capable of experiencing the heights of felicity”

Alexandre Dumas

KBach Bash was an arts spectacle, including numerous large scale murals from KBach Studio, four exhibitions, a debut solo show from Hour Soben (2018 KBach Artist winner), as well as hundreds of aspiring young Cambodians witnessing the reality that you can be a professional artist too. We awarded seven contracts with KBach Gallery and KBach Studio for this year’s champions.

KBach Arts is a group of companies that can be seen as a major catalyst of the Khmer art renaissance. Founded in 2017 by Tony Francis, KBach has grown from a singular gallery to a collective of complimentary galleries, studios, international residence projects and, most pertinently, the KBach Artist Competition, all designed to achieve their goal of identifying, supporting and promoting Cambodian art.

Now, with over 20 Cambodian-born artists and over 400 original Cambodian artworks and sculptures, KBach Arts is spearheading the scene that has slowly been bubbling over the last years. The latest exhibition, KBach 2020 Collection Exhibition, will be open to the public from Friday 6th February until Monday 10th Februrary.

Original artwork by Hour Soben

The selected artists for 2020 represent the very best of Cambodian artistic talent, ranging from internationally recognised artists such as KBach Arts Competition judges Chhim Sothy, Chhan Dina and Em Riem; established master painters and sculptors Sou Nary, Chan Dany, Ouk Chim Vichet and Sous Sodavy; and KBach Artist competition winners Hour Soben (2018) and Mouern Oun (2019).

KBach Arts is a proud partner of Cambodia’s first female empowerment festival, Phnom Fem Fest, which will be exhibiting unseen artworks by Cambodia’s most inspirational and talented young female artists, Keom Keosocheat and Hak Siheang.  

For more information on KBach Arts, the artists, artworks, the KBach Artist 2020 Competition or the AiR (Artists in Residency) projects, contact them via

Instragram: KBach Arts

FB: KBach Arts


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