Born in France to parents who escaped the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, artist FONKi grew up in Montreal and developed a successful career as a graffiti artist. But after an emotional visit to Cambodia in 2012, FONKi decided to move to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, and continue his art practice from there. “I just got caught up in the wave of that Khmer renaissance that Cambodia is in right now,” says the artist.
FONKi’s street art in Phnom Penh embraces the local history and community — “digging into my roots,” as he describes it.
“Graffiti exploded all around the world and there’s an aesthetic for Europe, for South America, that they’re really inspired by their ancient culture,” explains FONKi. “So since there was no typical aesthetic [yet] of Cambodia in terms of street art, I needed to create something that really reflects the culture because I think that graffiti is the mirror of the society, city, region, where it’s being developed.”