Royal University of Fine Arts – Phnom Penh May 28th – June 6th

Hotel de la Paix – Siem Reap June 8th
- August 8th

The start of an exciting phase for Cambodian Stone sculpture.

Background of the Contemporary Stone Carving Project

This project was implemented by British artist Sasha Constable and
made possible through the support of FOKCI – Friends of Khmer Culture.
Over the past months young Cambodian artists and sculpture students
from the Royal University of Fine Arts have been learning about the
development of Stone, from different ancient traditions through to our
contemporary world.

Stone is the material which encapsulates the legacy of the Ancient
Angkor Empire yet there is no contemporary stone carving. In modern
day Cambodia we can admire the technical ability of the stone carvers
that replicate images from that magnificent bygone era, however this
exhibition showcases the new beginning of a contemporary era of stone
carvings, reflecting modern day Cambodia.

A percentage of sales from the stone carvings by RUFA students will go
towards purchasing equipment and materials for the sculpture

Background of The Royal University of Fine Arts

The School of Fine Arts traces back its origins to the Ecoles des Arts
Cambodgiens, founded in Phnom Penh by the Cambodian Royal Family in
1918 under the directorship of George Groslier. RUFA originally
incorporated faculties of traditional drawing, sculptural modeling,
bronze casting, silversmithing, furniture making and weaving and was
principally a workshop assigned to the Royal family for producing
copies of traditional Khmer art, mostly from the extensive Angkorian
temple complexes.

In the late 1940’s a section of so-called ‘Modern Painting’
(representational painting) was founded. By the late 1950’s
representational drawing, painting and sculpture formed a substantial
portion of the curriculum of the school, while traditional painting,
mask making, silversmithing and weaving continued to be taught in
individual sections.

In 1965 this institution was merged with the national theatre school
to form the Royal University of Fine Arts. Thereafter its programme
embraced archaeology, architecture and urban planning and design.
Prior to 1975 all of the Universities teaching took place on the
original campus in the centre of the city. From 1975-1980 all teaching
ceased. It reopened in 1980 as the School of Fine Arts. University
status was restored in 1989 with the suffix ‘Royal’ once more being

‘Art is the soul of a country’ (quote Preoung Chhieng – Dean at RUFA).

RUFA currently has 5 faculties, Archaeology, Architecture and Urbanism
and Plastic Arts can be found behind the museum on street 178 and
Street 19, whilst Choreographic Arts and Music are several miles away
from the city. The faculty of Fine Art still echoes its founding
principles, instructing students in traditional Khmer artistic styles,
techniques, history and also introduce them to modern western styles
and techniques. Progress on the latter element is greatly hampered by
an almost complete lack of resources.

(Reference taken from Visiting Arts website)

The Artists

OU Vanndy

Ou Vanndy graduated from RUFA in 2005 with a degree in Sculpture. He
went on to do a teacher training course at the National Institute of
Education (NIE) and has been teaching drawing at NIE for the past 3

‘Water is Life’

This stone carving signifies the link between women, water and life.
Water is necessary for life; women give birth to new life.

‘The Dance’

Depicting the unity of man and a woman through the beautiful hand
movements learnt through traditional Cambodian dance.

KEO Neathmony

Mony graduated from RUFA in 2004, majoring in Interior Design. He is
now a Government official in the anti-corruption unit.


Although Jayavarman VII is the most famous king in Cambodian history,
when all the people are not united together the country fell.

KIM Samdy

Samdy graduated from RUFA in 2006 with a degree in Interior Design. He
now teaches at the Royal University of Fine Arts secondary school.


This carving is about the good side of human nature. In our modern
world we must listen carefully to the goodness inside us and combat
the negative side of life.


Dolphins are intelligent creatures who share similar emotions to human
beings. This sculpture is about the sensing of these emotions.


Is about those with experience taking care of the younger generation,
like a teacher mentoring a student or the leader of the country
looking after his people.


This is about freedom of speech. A functional piece of furniture that
combines materials signifying different parts of society linked
together to create freedom.

‘Endless smile’

Although the Angkorian apsaras were hidden by the jungle for centuries
with no one taking care of them, they still continued to smile.

‘Mother of the World’

Women are the givers of new life, mothers of the world. Her hand cups
her pregnant belly, anticipating a new birth.

OUK Chimvichet

Vichet completed a degree in sculpture from RUFA, graduating in 2006.
He is currently teaching model making in the faculty of architecture
at RUFA.


This relief carving is about people’s sexual preference. Why are some
people gay and some people not?

‘Risk Taker’

Is about the concept of beauty. Some people will risk their health
through skin whitening products or plastic surgery to (in their mind)
become more beautiful.


This is about the sculptures that remain in Angkor and how their
brilliance attracts tourism and conservationists to protect our
Cambodian heritage.


Some people destroy or loot Angkorian sculptures, they do not
understand the importance of our heritage and just think about short
term personal benefit.

‘River Dolphin’

There is an old Khmer story that the river dolphin was born from
human. This dolphin feeds from its mother’s milk and is now a big
tourist attraction in Kratie province.


Graduating from the sculpture department at RUFA in 2006 Chhea Bunna
currently teaches at the Hun Sen Ta Kmao High School and the Cambodian
Mekong University where he instructs in drawing and watercolour

‘Gentle Mother’

Bunna’s first stone sculpture learning the techniques of carving. A
mother nurtures her child.


Depicting the heavens, earth and hell, parts connected by the broken pillar.

‘Save I’

This is about growth and continuity and the importance of passing on
knowledge from one generation to the next.

‘Save II’

A parent and child symbolizing the need for us to protect our young as
well as our surrounding environment.


Symbolizes 2 people who make a whole but are separate, the connection
between man and woman.


Symbolizes a monk encompassing the 5 feelings but it also includes a
6th feeling to connect our being.

‘The Thinker’

An interpretation of Rodin’s sculpture titled The Thinker. The
piercing hole becomes as important as the solid sculpture and the
textural contrast.

Sculpture students at RUFA

HOUT Chansambath

‘Smiling with the Right to Freedom and Independence’

The simplified image of a dove protects people from oppression and
exploitation. The two sides of the face and the big smile signify
independence and freedom.

MEAS Sovannara


The shape of the carving is reminiscent of a Naga which is powerful
and protects us, it calms us like water. The clasping hands signify
strength and unity.

LENG Sokeng


Is about male and female species mating to create new life.

BUN Sopanha

‘Cycle of Life’

From the front we see the baby being born and the other side is the
old man. From the top the carving has the appearance of a skull. The
Cycle of Life.

ROEUN Phyrom

‘Non Frontier’

No small tree can grow under the bigger tree. When there is a famous
artist, it is difficult to surpass them, sometimes you need to break
away on your own individual path.

OUCH Sambath


Volleyball is a much loved sport in Cambodia. Now it is played at an
international level and has become popular and empowered sportsmen
with disabilities.



There are two kinds of partners, the first leads us on the right path,
helping us improve ourselves, the second leads us down the wrong path
introducing us to drugs and other evils.

MOUN Kosal

‘Road Safety’

We must wear helmets when we are traveling on our motorbikes if we
wish to be safe. In case of an accident helmets protect our life.

YONG Chankroeusna

‘Compassion, Pity, Joy and Sincerity’

These are four attributes that are part of Buddhist faith. If people
live and understand these they will be better people and enjoy a more
fulfilling life.

Sasha Constable

British artist Sasha Constable is a sculptor and printmaker who
specialized in stone sculpture at Wimbledon Art School, London in the
early 1990’s.

Arriving in Cambodia in November 2000 initially as artist in residence
and then as design consultant for the World Monuments Fund, she then
moved into the education of young Khmer artists.

Sasha is an active participator and promoter of the Cambodian
contemporary art scene. For two years she managed a gallery in Siem
Reap which served as a platform for upcoming Khmer artists, many of
whom are now well established in the contemporary art scene.

She has exhibited her own work (sculpture, prints and photographs) in
over forty group exhibitions and had seven solo shows. Much of her
work has been inspired by travel abroad. She has traveled extensively
in Asia. Her art is in private collections worldwide and she has
completed numerous commissions in sculpture, printmaking and mural

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