Meet the Stars: Pen Robit
By Vattanak Chou
Pen Robit is a visual artist who plays the role of “Teacher” in the show “Sokha”. He grew up in Battambang and attended the Visual and Applied Arts School at Phare Ponleu Selpak. He also studied at the Pivaut Applied School of Art in France.
Q: How long have you worked at Phare?
In total I’ve been with Phare for ten years as a student and painter, but I just started performing with “Sokha” four months ago.
Q: What was your life like when you were young?
I’m from Battambang province. I was born in a poor family. My father and mother were always moving the family around to try to find a better life. When I was young I went to live with my uncle, who took care of me and sent me to public school.
Q: How did you first come to Phare Ponleu Selpak?
I came to study at Phare Ponleu Selpak because I liked painting and wanted to study visual arts. When I was a child I always liked painting every day. With some encouragement from my friends who studied at Phare Ponleu Selpak and my father, who is also a painter, I began to study at Phare.
The artists and people at Phare are my second family.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an artist?
Art always had great meaning for me. I also saw that visual arts can make my life better than before. I was invited to participate in many exhibitions in Cambodia, Taiwan, and other countries to exhibit my work and exchange experiences with other artists.
Q: What is your favorite show at Phare?
Sokha is my favorite show, and my favorite part in the show is when the Khmer Rouge kill all the Cambodian people in the fields. This show can make anyone shed tears and imagine that brutal era.
Q: What would you do if you weren’t an artist?
If I did not study visual art, I don’t know what I would have done. Maybe I would have just live my life in my community as a trash picker or drug addict. When I became an artist I found out what I can do to make my life better than before.
Q: What is your life like now outside of work?
Now I’m single and I live in Battambang province. I like to do painting, even in my spare time. Outside of that I spend time with my family.
Q: What are your hopes for the future?
In the future I intend to continue being a visual artist. I also want to have exhibition space to show art to people in Cambodia, and to show international guests the vibrant art scene in this country. I hope that will be able to teach the younger generation too.
Read more about the show “Sokha”.
Read more about other visual artists working at Phare.