In a unique collaboration, Cambodian artist Fonki and I created this mural to celebrate 55 years of diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Singapore. It is a symbolic portrayal of the longstanding relations between the two countries, and the warm friendship between the two peoples.
Fonki’s bold abstract neo-expressionist brushstrokes and my detailing through intricate brushstrokes are a harmonious contrast of our styles.
Fonki rendered the majestic imageries of the Khmer Lion from the Angkorian era – the Khmer symbol of peace and prosperity, royalty, strength and courage; and the Merlion – the national symbol of Singapore, the Lion City. The Angkorian lion with the missing head symbolises the resilience of the Khmer people; that despite years of wars and battles, and tragic attempts to eradicate their culture and people, the rebuilding of Cambodia with the support of close friends, has culminated in the Khmer Renaissance of a rich heritage and a bright future. Alongside each Angkorian lion is a Merlion, a symbol of the steadfast friendship and constructive partnership that bind the two nations and peoples together. Fonki said “You can try to cut the head of the lion, but the soul will always remain”.
The four lions tower over a miniature city in the centre of the mural, a surreal depiction of the capital city of Phnom Penh and the island city state of Singapore. At a glance, the scenes are distinctly Cambodian or Singaporean, but on closer look, they are as similar as they are distinct. The juxtapose of modern skyscrapers and historic buildings tell of the challenges in retaining the heritage and identity amidst the pursuit of modernity and development.
The Vattanac Capital Towers in the foreground, an iconic landmark of modern Phnom Penh, and Singapore’s own postcard icons of the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay in the background, are featured on either sides of a fast flowing river thriving with commerce and industry, represent the success, prosperity and dreams of the two countries and their peoples.
The playful scenes of everyday life and common architecture styles represent the shared lifestyle and aspirations of the two peoples. The pair of Angkorian Lion and Merlion sculptures in the bottom left-of-centre of the mural and the Naga-Merlion bridge in the bottom centre which connects the two sections of the metropolis represent the many more successful collaborations between Cambodia and Singapore and their peoples in the years ahead