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Democratic Kampuchea

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Artist: Pech Song
Date: 1999
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 150 x 225 cm
Event: Cambodian Killing Fields
Motif: Events  

Recently, Pech Song began a set of paintings in an attempt to begin to address the startling lack of visual representations of recent Cambodian history. The project produced a large canvas depicting each of the regimes that the painter has lived under and painted for. For decades, Pech Song kept himself alive by painting realist propaganda posters for the ruling regimes. For the project of confronting Cambodia's history of pain, Song has turned his talent for realistic figures and classical composition to the task of documenting the atrocities carried out by various power groups. Democratic Kampuchea depicts the flight of the population out of Phnom Penh. The citizens had been told that the Americans would soon bomb the city and also that the area had to be cleared of enemies. The people were to be able to return home in three days. At that time, rich and poor, regardless of their status, were forced to flee the city on foot together. The sick and those too old to walk were summarily killed along the road. As can be seen in the lower foreground of the picture, general Lon Nol's soldiers were also summarily executed. -- Ingrid Muan