Svay Ken started painting in 1993 when he was 61 years old.  Influenced by his grandfather, he intended to paint since he was young—preserving his memories for a time when he could access the appropriate materials and be able to sell his artwork.  Most of Svay Ken’s work is from old memories and the rest are from his observation of life happening around him.  He uses only his eye and mind to record the image and then sets his impression permanently to canvas.  Diligently, he produces three to four pieces a week and is usually found painting in his gallery/studio near Wat Phnom.  All of Svay Ken’s work is dedicated to the memory of his deceased wife.

outsiderART is Svay Ken’s seventh exhibition, the fourth in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  He has previously shown in Japan and twice in Thailand.


Chath Piersath began to paint as a way to exorcise the experiences of his life, to heal his pain and “express universal suffering.”  Born in Cambodia in 1970, he was sponsored, along with some of his family, to live in the USA when he was eleven years old.   He returned from 1994 to 1996 and again in 2002.  Chath Piersath discovered painting as a way to escape and focus his energy.  He paints from memory and sometimes dreams.  He then realizes the image through the process of painting letting it appear without any conscious intention.  He continues to explore all available media to release his relentless creative energy.

Chath Piersath has been exhibited at the Rhode Island Foundation Gallery, RI, USA and is currently showing working at the Brush Art Gallery, MA, USA.

Art which does not belong to any other specific or defined movement.

Art which uses unconventional or invented technique unique to the artist.

Art which is created solely as an expression or communication of the artist.

Art that is created without known purpose other than the act of creation itself.

Art which is created without any conscious motive.

about the artists

Piersath Chath

Piersath Chath

Chath Piersath was born in Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia, in 1970. He is a poet and contemporary artist. Chath’s early work described his personal search to connect with the suffering of others in order to understand his own and to reconnect with the people that he lost as a child of war. Similarly, in his work with orphans and people affected by HIV and AIDS, Chath utilized art as a vehicle to help others and find a path for himself toward healing. His early work consisted of small portraits, portrays intimate characters from his own life, often with large eyes, tattered hope, broken by poverty and suffering. These simple portraits comprise a spontaneous diary, almost a stream of consciousness, reflecting his own naïve, obsessive and immediate need to tell his story in painting and drawing. His later works consist of collage, mixed media, using glue and found materials, wood blocks, newspapers, magazines, cardboard boxes and tiles. For these works he cuts and tears images, combining them with paint, building up layered images that reflect his present search for meaning and purpose in the very unsettled social, economic and political environment of Cambodia, where he lives and works six months of the year. During the other six months, he lives and works on a farm in the United States, his adopted country, where he began his life as an artist piecing together memories and narratives. ‘Wallpaper’, a large scale mixed media collage installation, brings together a vast array of faces and narratives. Equally, in his painted series, 'Mental Blocks', he uses a number of individual cubes, each one usually depicting a singular painted face, to form a larger, more robust cubist form. In both works, Chath highlights the social injustice he sees while empowering people by bringing them together. He refers to this conscious act as being the antidote for how he sees people interacting today, where many are only concerned with ‘the hair on their own head’.

In ‘Stolen Narratives’, a series exhibited in 2010, he presents painted and collaged portraits made from photographs and other details he collected from the mass media.  His layering and re-assembling of mismatched facial features found in magazines or newspapers, purposely removes them from their initial context as saleable commodities and inserts them into the realm of abstraction. Awkward and anguished looking, these are not glorified depictions of beauty. With over-sized eyes, which beg for attention, they represent the unheard and disenfranchised in Cambodia.

At times, Chath fuses images of people, buildings and text ripped from magazines with painting to the extent that they are almost indistinguishable. This is an apt metaphor for Phnom Penh where the rate of change is so fast that people, rather than being considered as active individuals, have been subsumed by the changes. Together, these images comprise an attempt at articulating his evolving relationship with his homeland.

Chath’s art works have been shown at the Rhode Island Foundation Gallery (2003), the Whistler’s Museum of Lowell MA (2003), the Queen’s Gallery in Bangkok (2004), and in Kunming, China (2007).

Ken Svay