Born seventy years into French colonial rule in 1933 to a family of farmers in rural Takeo province, Svay Ken studied Buddhist precepts as a novice monk before joining the peasant militia Chivapol, commanded by King Norodom Sihanouk to fight against French occupation. Throughout his career, Svay exhibited annually throughout Cambodia and abroad. He was chosen for the first Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial in 1994. He is collected by the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, and the Queensland Art Gallery. He also represented Cambodia in the 6th Asia-Pacific Art Triennial in 2009.