In a coded manner, Thynal looks at the selfish nature of human relationships from the familial to the religious. By referring to his “family” Thynal immediately suggests something intimate and personal, but alludes to society as a whole. Unapologetically, he discards the “politically correct” view and looks critically at how families often manipulate and exploit each other for personal gain, the pretense of religious rituals and even the abuse of corruption.

“When even one person acts selfishly, it hurts everyone,” Thynal explains.

One painting, titled “Immoral,” depicts a mother with long snake-like arms trying to catch children out of the air while a “thought bubble” is filled with playing cards. The mother preys upon her own children to make money that she only wastes by gambling. Another shows a tightly wound group of people trapped in a circular formation—their smiling faces purposely misleading when paired with the title “Monster Family.” In “Balance” several intertwined figures that represent a network of self-serving individuals fill an egg-like shape that balances on another small egg and small red circle resting precariously on a thin line.

In each of the paintings, the cartoon-like figures belie the menacing subject and hint at the contradiction between one’s inner nature and the external expression.

Thynal, part of the new generation of outspoken and critical artists, has explored several themes that are socially-focused including landmines, the environment and the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge. He graduated from Phare Ponleu Selpak (Battambang) in 2006 and his work has been exhibited in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. This will be his second solo show.

about the artist

Ben Thynal