The transformation of a creative capital

For centuries, Battambang, Cambodia, was renowned for the arts – until its artists were targeted by the Khmer Rouge. Now, its troubled history is informing its creative spirit.

“You can be a starving artist in Battambang, but you’ll never die of hunger,” said Theanly Chov, as he began sketching out his latest artwork: an homage to the Cambodian movie posters of the 1960s.

Chov, considered one of Cambodia’s leading up-and-coming artists, was explaining why the laid-back riverside city in north-western Cambodia came to have such a long-standing reputation for the arts – renowned across Southeast Asia for its creative endeavours.

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