Yes! Today we’ll be taking in some Myanmar art and learn a bit about the artists.
Myanmar art has been influenced by the government in power. During its socialist days, artists had the freedom to create as they wished but the government supported artists that represented their political views. When the military took over there is more censorship so their art was limited to safe themes such as landscapes, religious tales or figures and creatures from folktales. Artists can even go to jail if they painted anything that resembles discontent with the government.
These are some artists:
He was born in Yangon, Myanmar on 24 September 1930, and was raised by his mother after his father died when he was five months old. From an early age he spent much of his time drawing. He graduated from the Art Institute of Teacher’s Training in 1954. He was an instructor at the State School of Fine Arts, Yangon (1958–1979) and principal of this school (1977–1979). He also taught at the Fine Art association the University of Rangoon (1960–1979).He also studied in China and Germany.
Lun Gywe began painting in a realistic and naturalistic vein, influenced by the major painters of the Rangoon School, Ba Nyan, Ngwe Gaing, San Win, and Thein Han who was his painting master. Over time, his works became more impressionistic and some of the works today might be called expressionistic. His exposure to rapidly executed Chinese ink and watercolor painting during his trip to China seems to have influenced his impressionistic work as he paints quickly and he is extremely prolific. Of his Impressionist style, he has said, “I paint according to my emotions, drawing inspiration from smell and textures, light and shadow” An important part of his work focuses on the female form, his favorite subject. A strong believer in Buddhism, his work is unified by his devotion to the principles embodied in that religion of order, harmony, stability and grace. He has said “I find inspiration in calmness. I cannot create a good painting when in an unsettled frame of mind. I often meditate before I start a painting.” (1)
HERE is his website and you can see a timeline of his life there, awards and many of his paintings. He has a gallery where he shares all his art and his knowledge. The address is:
No.409-413, Taung Ngu Road, 17 Ward Shwe Pauk Kan (New Town),
N/ Okkalapa TSP, Yangon, Myanmar.
From his website I am borrowing all the following photos and videos:
This video, also from his website allows one to see his process. His sketching ability is incredible!!!
This is him painting… it blew my mind! The width of his brush and how he manages to be so accurate in the proportion, light and shading of his subject. Master doesn’t even begin to describe him!
Loved the fluidity of his work…
U Win Pe
He is another of Myanmar’s most celebrated living artists. Along with his close friends Kin Maung Yin and Paw Oo Thett, Win Pe was a leader of Myanmar’s modern art movement in the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a successful film director, winning Myanmar’s equivalent of the Academy Award in 1981. He is also a respected short story writer. Some call him a Renaissance man.
Win Pe is from Mandalay, the historical and cultural capital of Myanmar and from a prominent Mandalay family. His father, Shwepy U Ba Tin, a famous scholar of Myanmar art, history and culture, was very supportive of Win Pe’s artistic development. While his father was an anti-colonialist and preferred traditional Myanmar music, he was open to his son’s discovery of American Jazz and European classical music which he heard from Radio Ceylon and American movies and sent him to apprentice with the successful painter, Ba Thet. His friend Paw Oo Thett joined him there and after a while Ba Thet sent both of them to study with Kin Maung to learn modernist, more abstract art trends. (1)
In the early 1960s, Win Pe and Paw Oo Thett left Mandalay for Rangoon where they met Kin Maung Yin, an artist and architect. The three lived together at the architect offices, exchanged ideas, painted together and held many exhibitions especially among the diplomatic community.
In 1966, Win Pe, at age 31, was appointed Dean of the Mandalay State School of Fine Art, Music and Dance. It was his dream job but his vision to mix modern ideas with traditional arts conflicted with the older, conservative teaching staff and he left after four years. He would spend the next 15 years as a film director and short story writer. His first film, Let the Sky Not Fall was well received and in 1981 he won Myanmar’s equivalent of the Academy Awards as Best Director for his film, Red Rose Dream.
In 1993, three of Win Pe’s short stories were published in the book, Inked Over, Ripped Out. The following year, he attended the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and earned an Honorary Fellowship there.
Here is the artist and some of his work:
Chaw Ei Thein
She was born in Rangoon in 1969. Her interest in art began under the guidance and tuition of her father, the painter and art academic Maung Maung Thein. She won numerous international awards as a young artist and not just in the visual arts but also in performing arts. She graduated from Rangoon
University with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1994. (2)
In 2004, Thein took part in the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) which she credits as opening the door for her involvement in the performance art community. During the interview with Asia Art Archive she does not hesitate to humbly thank her mentors for such opportunities.
“I did my very first street performance in Tokyo – and I still thank Seiji Shimoda and Aye Ko for giving me this great opportunity… Seiji Shimoda and NIPAF have played an important role in engaging Asian and international artists, to work together and create more networks. This was how I got the chance to network and make contacts with many Asian and western artists” (4)
She received the Elizabeth J McCormack and Jerome I Aaron fellowship in connection with the Asian Cultural Council in New York, and she has lectured and exhibited extensively in and outside of Myanmar. (3)
Chaw has at times been labeled as being a political activist and criticized for mingling art and politics. Her creativity is deeply enmeshed in her life experiences and she stands true to her convictions. Forever searching for ways to take personal control in her artistic expressions have been challenging in the restrictive Burma’s socio-political climate. (3) She had to live under the military regime and when she tried to express her feelings in performance they arrested for 5 days.
Trying to escape from the realization that many innocent people are imprisoned for their beliefs and democratic actions along with the current living environment in Burma has been part of her inner conflict, and she attests that art is a constructive means of highlighting that socio-political realm.
“Whenever I try to create something, it just appears in my mind as relating to my country’s current situation – my friends who are still in prison, and the people in Burma… I cannot get away from this issue, even today. I don’t know how to change the subject to create something else. That is my own problem, and the conflict within me” (4)
In the following video you can see Chaw Ei Thein in all her artistic power much more than my words could ever attempt to describe:
HERE you can also read the account of a person who saw here last performance of “Quiet River” in 2010.
And here are photos of her painting:
This was from her first performance piece “Silk Cloth” from 2004.
These are paintings she created while in New York:
Thanks so much for coming along! Now… can you guess which of these artist will inspire my Myanmar angel? ^ ^
(2) Culture Trip
(3) Brochure from one of Chaw Ei Thein exhibits: “Stories out of Burma” at the Thavibu Gallery in 2010.