This is a well-known ancient Khmer proverb which is still very popular in the contemporary lives of Cambodian people. Fish are animals that are adept at living in water, completely different from ants that live on land. But, both animals have one thing in common – hard work. Ants are special food for fish while fish are a popular food for ants. Fish and ants are animals. They dominate each other depending on the environment where they live and on the changing situation of nature. Both animals will continue this pattern forever.

Human beings have developed good reasoning, which is completely different from fish and ants. Human beings are able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad. Moreover, human beings can change and can accept what is new and better. The proverb “WHEN THE WATER RISES, THE FISH EATS THE ANT; WHEN THE WATER RECEDES THE ANT EATS THE FISH” has a symbolic meaning and plays a very important role for people of all generations. It clearly reflects a terrible disaster for human beings as a result of mutual oppression according to a specific situation. Eventually, no real success prevails for any group.

Fish and large red ants have been chosen to be the main characters in the picture because fish represent animals that live in water and large red ants represent animals that live on land.

This series of pictorial stories showing the lives of fish and large red ants is a broad vision about two species of animal that live in two completely different environments. Both species of animal have created bitter memories of one another for a long time.

Not only is this proverb a good example for all of us, but it is also a Khmer proverb that has retained its popularity up to the present time. All the pictures carry a profound lesson and are drawn with rare artistic beauty, which is very pleasing to the eye, clear-cut colors and lively originality, which adds to the beauty of nature. All the pictures were taken through careful selection of the locations and using natural sunlight in Kandal Stung district, Kandal province in the suburbs of Phnom Penh. In the river, there are many species of fish and on land there are many species of ants living their natural lives. My assistant and I have spent a considerable amount of time visiting and investigating the everyday natural lives of ants and fish. Then, we considered their activities and sketched according to the concepts that we wanted to express in addition to the existing scene by fully respecting nature. We observed that, like human beings, animals have two sexes, families, mates, offspring and shelter and they know how to do everyday work, work as a group, help each other, live in a community and face unexpected accidents, etc.

Therefore, I have expressed many personal feelings in combination with all my talents in order to create each of the works with artistic beauty and dynamism.

about the artist

Mak Remissa