07 Jan 2019
Gifted with the ability to paint hyper-realistic oil paintings – so good some have doubted their authenticity – the enigmatic Khmer artist known only as the ‘King of Painting’ has risen in recent years to become one of the Kingdom’s most celebrated up-and-coming artists.
With more than 102,000 likes on his official Facebook page , the 31-year-old painter – who prefers to keep his real name a secret – is attracting admirers among the rich and famous, and the general public alike, who request he draw or paint their portrait.
His commissions cost anywhere between $10 to $2,000 and he has one condition with clients – there must be no deadline.
“My paintings depend on my mood and feeling. For this reason, I will not accept an order with a tight deadline. I stand by my rule and trust my feelings to do my best rather than meeting tight deadlines. My work has always left my clients very satisfied,” he tells The Post.
Born into a poor family of seven children in Kampong Speu Province’s Udong district, the King of Painting has earned money from his art since he was a young boy.
“I’ve been good at drawing since I was in elementary school. My friends used to pay me 1,500 riel [around $0.37] to draw their portrait on A4 or A3 paper. When I was studying in high school, the price went up to 5,000 riel per drawing,” he says.
After struggling for many years, including a miserable spell living homeless when he first moved to Phnom Penh in search of opportunity, it is his artwork that has now saved him from poverty.
The former Royal University of Fine Arts student now lives and works near Siem Reap town’s night market.