Java Café and Gallery Phnom Penh Cambodia

Svay Ken
Svay Ken
Cambodian Art Scene

Established by Dana Langlois in 2000, the Java Café and Gallery Phnom Penh is a combination café and gallery. It supports the growth of a “dynamic” art scene in Cambodia. In 2000, there wasn’t much happening in contemporary visual arts. Java gave artists an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work to people who frequented the café. Since then, Java Café and Gallery has hosted over ninety exhibitions and artist presentations, international exchange projects, forums, and local artist collaborations.

Chhim Sothy
Chhim Sothy
Java Café and Gallery

“The gallery brought international attention to Cambodian artists, helping artists like Leang Seckon, Oeur Sokuntevy, Pich Sopheap, Chath pierSath, and Meas Sokhorn become known to the public.”

Meas Sokhorn
Leang Seckon
Leang Seckon

Until 2008, the gallery was non-profit and supported exhibitions and projects entirely by its own funds. As the Phnom Penh art scene developed, JavaArts promoted “sustainability by developing a practical commercial sector and generating funds from sales which in part go into community projects or sponsorship of artist initiatives”.

Thu Sophannarith – carousell.sq
Chath pierSath
Chath pierSath
Art History Cambodia

“Cambodia has a long history of art dating back to the rich Angkorian period. While renowned for its monumental history, there is tremendous creativity in contemporary Cambodia.  During the 1960s, Cambodian art went through a revival and had a thriving arts environment. HRH King Sihanouk was a leading force for the country through his love for cinema and music.”

Vann Nath
Vann Nath
Chhim Sothy
Khmer Rouge

The Khmer Rouge regime put an end to creative freedom when they killed an estimated 90% of the artists or forced them into exile. Since the 1980s the Cambodian art scene slowly revived. Initially the focus was on rebuilding the traditional arts (dance, music, and sculpture). Most efforts and funding went into supporting Cambodia’s quest for identity. Individual artists (Svay Ken, Vann Nath), usually self-taught, soon broke from traditional forms of expression and gave a more contemporary dynamic to arts. A younger generation inspired by these masters slowly emerged (Thu Sophannarith, Chhim Sothy, Hen Sophal).

Eiko Naganawa Splendor in the Dark
Eiko Naganawa - Dreams
Eiko Naganawa – Dreams
Royal University of Fine Arts

The Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) features contemporary elements in their programs including photography, interior design, and modern architecture.  Other alternatives include the French Cultural Center (CCF), which supports French and Khmer artists and Reyum Gallery, an Art School whose main focus has been on research and preservation of Cambodian arts and teaching arts to young children.

Meas Sokhorn
Meas Sokhorn

Recently, young Cambodian artists returned from abroad (Pich Sopheap, Chath pierSath) and have provided examples of a more expressive approach to contemporary art. Other local artists like Leang Seckon and Mak Remissa opened the way to new art concepts. This new generation, with diverse educations and influences, is finding its voice and sparking new interest in contemporary art in Cambodia.

Oeur Sokuntevy –
Oeur Sokuntevy
Oeur Sokuntevy
Dana Langlois

Dana Langlois, the founder of Java Café & Gallery is an “art-preneur” and curator based in Phnom Penh since 1998. By opening one of the first contemporary art galleries in the capital city, she launched a dynamic art scene in Cambodia – a country devastated by war and political instability.

Pich Sopheap
Sopheap Pich

Dana contributed significantly to the recent emergence of the Cambodian contemporary art scene by supporting local artists and initiating projects through JavaArts. Currently, working with local artists and institutions, Dana encourages community participation in developing public art installations and promoting sustainability through the development a viable commercial sector.

Huot Channa java cafe
Huot Channa
Sokun Osakphea java cafe
Preung Sokun Osakphea
Crossing the River – Thu Sophannarith


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