Monthly Mandatory Meeting

Monthly Mandatory Meeting is a rare image of daily life under the violent and ideologically-intense Khmer Rouge regime. The scene shows a mass meeting in a rural community, where the public are receiving ideological instruction. Painted in the artist’s characteristic naïve and vibrant style, The symmetrical composition and the repetitive effect of the crowd of faces convey the ideological conformity expected during the Khmer Rouge period, as well as the suppression of individual identity into the collective. The disparity in scale between the crowd and the cadre, as well as the cadre’s forceful gestures, suggest the imbalance of power and environment of fear. The setting is highly local – showing a characteristic Cambodian landscape. The artist paints the scene at sunset: however, instead of creating a picturesque effect, the red-streaked sky adds to the sense of disquiet.Svay Ken’s direct and unflinching portrayals of Cambodian life are arguably a marker for the beginnings of “the contemporary” in the context of Cambodian art, marking a turn away from picturesque landscape painting.

Artist Name
Svay Ken
Frame size: 77.5 x 135.3 x 4.5 cm, Image size: 72.5 x 130 cm
Accession No.
Oil on canvas
Collection of
National Gallery Singapore