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Painting a way out of poverty

The Khmer Rouge killed Cambodia’s intellectuals, artists and musicians, crippling Battambang’s once thriving arts scene.

Battambang is now slowly regaining its place as the Cambodian capital of arts and culture, spurred on by the young and passionate local artists.

Makara* is an artist who accessed CCT’s services. As a young adult he has a passion for painting and has just started selling his artwork at Jaan Bai restaurant.

“ I was born in Battambang Province in 1995. I had a difficult start to my life but, luckily for me, I have had mentors in my life who encouraged me to pursue my love of art and music. I have studied at Phare Ponlue Selpak Visual Arts School and now I am working to make my career as an artist.

One of my street art works is a part of the mural on the wall at Jaan Bai Restaurant in Battambang. Creating, painting and playing the piano is what brings meaning to my life. I am inspired by the transformative power of art to heal, connect and foster solidarity…”

Makara became interested in art at 14 years old when he began drawing at home; now as an aspiring artist himself he encourages others to remember past Cambodian artists.

The next generation should learn and understand about traditional Khmer artists and to never forget their art and paintings.”

In the future my dream is to become a famous artist. I would like people all around the world to know and understand my art.

This is the first step for Makara to earn an income and support his continued art practice. If you are ever in Battambang make sure you come into the restaurant to purchase some of the paintings, cards and stickers available.

There are more artists per capita in Battambang than in any other Cambodian city, and Battambang is also home to one of Cambodia’s only two art schools. Battambang is becoming more and more well-known for its dynamic art scene, helping to promote cultural pride among local people.

*Name changed to protect privacy