Eiko Naganawa | Splendor in the Dark | 2002 | Java Creative Cafe


Splendor in the Dark

June 10 – July 21, 2002
Java Creative Cafe Independence Monument

Eiko Naganawa kindly donated her artwork entitled Earth Goddess, from this exhibition, to Cambodia’s Ministry of Woman’s Affairs on April 27, 2005.

Naganawa is a naïve painter, or actually faux naive in the tradition of Paul Klee and Marc Chagall. Those two artists were highly skilled masters who developed childlike styles. Both of them synthesized disparate cultures. Similarly, Naganawa, while her roots are in Japanese tradition, embraces the Cambodian culture.

The artist felt a deep sympathy for the Cambodians because of the suffering they endured during the years of war. She was inspired to go there and to help revive the spirits of people by teaching art and making picture books for students.

The world famous temple complex Angkor Wat has strongly influenced Naganawa, particularly the many statues of female heavenly figures. Her brilliantly colored oil paintings depict these women, but instead of having them flying about, she brings them down to earth. Some sit comfortably on a sofa, or enjoy a day by the sea. Goddess’ have always provided an excuse for artists to portray women in the nude, and Naganawa does so with charm and innocence.

The artist’s position is that humanity can rise from the ashes of war like a phoenix through innate creative and positive potential. One thinks of great monuments like Angkor Wat and the Pyramids as being the remnants of dead civilizations. Naganawa would seem to hold that if a civilization bloomed once, it can do so again.

Description provided by Caelum gallery, New York City, NY, USA (2001)


1. Cambodge Soir, 17 June 2002
2. Article published in Japan, details unknown

The Java community art spaces operate as non-profit programs with support from the cafe and private sponsors. It brings art to the Phnom Penh public in ways they may not normally experience with beautiful and thought-provoking exhibitions and live events.

Some of our archived files have low resolution or don’t exist at all. Sometimes we were focused more on making exhibitions than archiving. Additionally, a fire many years ago destroyed all of our hard copies and a significant portion of our digital copies. If you are the artist or have access to images, press or anything else related to the exhibition, please contact us.

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