Samnieng Roun – Founder
Khmer Art Connections is a programme developed by Samnieng Roun in 2019. The idea was to connect talented and promising artists with art interested locals and visitors in the Siem Reap area, and thus provide a platform for preservation and sustainable development of authentic Khmer arts and crafts techniques .
We offer dedicated but informal classes in a local and authentic environment. Our small classes of maximum 4 participants provide an informal, but close relationship between teacher and student.
Promising artists get to promote and earn an income of their talent and experience, students get a professional course and unique experience and Khmer art is brought forward.
Samnieng has more than 15 years of experience in Sustainable Tourism and has project managed multiple social enterprises through his management position at NEDO (The Norwegian Educational Development Program. In 2013 he became Managing Director for Soria Moria Hotel, a price winning social enterprise, where he worked until the project ended in 2018.
Cheng Theam – Spoon Painter
Cheng Theam is from Siem Reap. From 2001 to 2008 he painted using a brush and then decided to change to painting with a spoon.
He attended the same painting class from 1999 until the end of 2000 as Em Svay and Bunhak Rouem in Siem Reap.
He has been commissioned to paint for clients throughout Cambodia and his paintings of Buddhist stories are also represented in many pagodas. Souvenir shops in Siem Reap stock his work as it is popular with tourists. Like the other artists, he is enthusiastic about working with Khmer Art Connections, as it gives him another outlet to share his skills with others.
Bun hak Rouem – Iron Fire Sketching
Bun hak Rouem is from Siem Reap and is 39 years old. He began studying painting in 1998 and worked as an oil painter until 2007.
In 2007, while burning rubbish to make compost to grow coconuts, he watched a palm leaf burn and he realized it could be used as a painting surface.
He experimented using a hot iron to burn into the surface of the palm leaf. He has since developed his skill and now produces iron fire paintings for businesses such as hotel and also private commissions.
He received a Patent from The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft in 2016. During the same year, Two of his works was offered for auction, and raised 18.500 USD for Red Cross in Cambodia and 750 USD for Angkor Hospital for Children.
Em Svay – Spoon Painter
Em Svay, from Siem Reap, is 39 years old. He developed an interest in painting when he tried to copy every weapon and the actors he saw in Chinese and Thai movies.
He decided to quit secondary school to concentrate on his painting. In 1995, he began attending a free painting course, which had been recommended to him by his neighbor, at Kemarak Angkor printing shop which is in Siem Reap town.
For many years, he used a brush to paint, but as he learnt more he developed a preference for painting using a spoon.
Em sells most his paintings to a souvenir shop in the Old Market in Siem Reap. He paints scenes from Buddhist history in pagodas, and completes commissions for businesses and individuals. He also teaches tourists at his home. He was a part time teacher for Love Cards, an education project of The Norwegian Education Development Organization in Siem Reap from 2008-2012.
Sophon Lon – Wood Carver
Sophon Lon is from Sotnikum District, Siem Reap. He is 42 years old. He was originally a brush painter. He did not attend a painting school but learnt by following an older painter.
He received a gold medal from United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1993. Shortly after this, his neighbour asked him to make a wood sculpture, but the finished piece did not meet his neighbour’s expectations.
Fortunately, he heard that there was a Khmer Art Angkor Work project in Siem Reap teaching wood carving skills and enrolled there. As well as wood carving, he now also carves in stone.
Sophon Lon is happy to join this project because he would like to introduce his skills which are embedded in Khmer culture and art to others. It is also a means to support his family.