Interview with Premier Fashion Magazine in Cambodia

23 May 2014

Cambodian Artist Dina Chhan from Phnom Penh interviewed in May 2014 Fashion Magaine Cambodian Artist Dina Chhan from Phnom Penh interviewed in May 2014 Fashion Magaine

“Dina is an absolute joy to be around, her warmth and enthusiasm are
positively contagious and her laugh seems to put everyone around her at
ease. She is the kind of person that you want to know more about, not just
because she produces great art, but because it is so evident that behind
that smile of hers there is a huge amount of lust for life that just pours
out into the the canvas”

“When working in front of others, she will stare at her canvas, her
head tilted to the left, brush in her right hand side; pause for a few moments
and strike the canvas with an incredible amount of certainty and faith in
what she is doing. The end product is always intriguing and beautiful, with
meanings as plentiful as the layers of paint that have gone into the intricate
image. It is our utmost pleasure to have been able to interview one of
Cambodia’s top female artists this month. Here is what she had to say”

Download the English PDF here Dina-Chhan-Ladies-Magazine-Cambodia-May-2014-EN


Phnom Penh Post: In “Cages Torn Open”, artist unleashes beastly message

20 May 2014

Cambodian Artist Sculptor and Painter Dina Chhan in Phnom Penh PostGnarled human torsos with animal heads emphasise the link between man and beast in artist Dina Chhan’s latest exhibition, opening tonight at Meta House. The 29-year-old hopes the collection of paintings and sculptures, titled Cages Torn Open, will deliver an environmental message about conservation and the damage wrought on the country by deforestation. “The message is, ‘please don’t destroy the forest as it will kill the animals’,” she said at her home studio in Phnom Penh earlier this week. Cambodia’s forest cover fell from about 72 per cent in 1973 to 46 per cent in 2013, according to Open Development Cambodia data from December.

“If animals live in the forest and you cut down the trees, it kills the animals,” the artist said. Chhan’s sculptures, which are made from dark brown clay, are moulded to resemble the old, knotted wood of trees. “I think brown is the colour of earth, clay and wood, so it’s the colour of nature”, she said. One sculpture, titled They Took Everything is in the twisted shape of a woman simultaneously displaying a smiling face and swearing. “This woman is smiling because she loves to protect animals, but she also feels angry, she’s asking, ‘why did you kill my animals? Why did you break my heart?’” said Chhan.

Another sculpture depicts a human torso, in a T-shirt, with a buffalo head. The details are precise: each line, wrinkle and spot on the beast’s head is shown around a pair of eyes made from marbles. Her brightly coloured paintings show a diverse number of animals in the Cambodian jungle. One focuses on two lions, huddling together while hands reach down towards them from the top of the painting – whether to care or kill the beasts.

Chhan, who was born and brought up in Phnom Penh, said it was on a trip to rural Siem Reap five years ago that she was struck by the abundance of Cambodia’s natural beauty. “I saw all these birds and I felt so impressed that my country had these animals,” she said. She also added that she opposes the consumption of rare species: “Many animals in Cambodia are endangered. Something like a crocodile – there aren’t many left in Cambodia”, she said.

Chhan learned to draw, paint and sculpt when she was 13 after an American neighbour noticed her making shapes out of clay in the street. The neighbour, who turned out to be an artist, told her mother that Chhan should join his art class. Chhan said her old teacher still inspires her today, though he doesn’t exhibit his work. As a more well-known inspiration, she named Battambang painter Oeur Sokuntevy.

“It’s important for us to work together, so that we can grow together as Cambodian artists,” she said. Cages Torn Open opens tonight at Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard at 6pm.

Cages Torn Open Exhibition of Sculptures and Paintings at Meta House, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

30 April 2014

Cages Torn Open

Exhibition of Sculptures and Paintings at Meta House, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom
– Maya Angelou

Cambodian Sculptor and Painter Dina Chhan

Vivid new exhibition

We are born free, and everywhere in chains. We are animals in zoos behind bars, we are women and men locked away in our factories and offices. The only difference between animal and human is the hand, which can wave, caress, paint; but also build barriers, construct fences and turn locks. Still, the eyes of humans, eyes of birds, eyes of beasts, all twinkle with the desire for liberty.
In Chhan Dina’s vivid new exhibition, Cages torn open, we are reminded of what we share with other living beings, and what we forget and deny. The paintings explode with colour, a confident assertion of the shared liberation theme. In paint, line and colour blur the distinctions between species, all swimming in the same soup; in fired clay, disparate characteristics are fused into one body.
Faces shine at us, even when grotesque. Open hands reach towards us, into us, prompting a reflection on the nature of humanity: a word we use to describe both our highest ideals and our inevitable imperfections. Are we feeding the animals? Warding off danger? Asking for forgiveness? Giving a warning? Offering a helping hand?
These hands are tearing open the cages that keep us from embracing all living things.


Meta House, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Tuesday 13th of May, 2014. Exhibition runs until the 12th of June, 2014

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Exhibition at FCC Mansion House, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

09 April 2014

I have a new exhibition at FCC Cambodia. Please come and support Cambodian art.

Asian painter and sculptor Dina Chhan mixes paint with photography


FCC Mansion, Riverside, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Thursday 10th of April, 2014. Exhibition runs until June, 2014

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Re-Housing of Non Houses

Re-housing of Non Houses by Fani llaurado and Dina Chhan

This exhibition of mixed medias, where photography meets paint. A project about public spaces have been “homestructed” and ended up turning into a home, into a vital community.

Big format exhibition by Dina Chhan.
Dina works in a range of media including painting and sculpture.
Themes of life, music and everyday activities have captured Dina’s imagination over the past ten years.
Smiling families, energetic musicians, a contemplative monk, the labours of the rice field and the market. Through a range of styles Dina explores the daily life of Cambodians.

Read an interview with both artists