A nation shut from the world, slowly opening its door
Ruled by a military regime with no rule of law
With minorities subjugated, majority oppressed
In a state of flux, of change, of unrest
Golden rays of Pagoda, pierce through the clouds
Is it the thousand protests or the silent prayers
That brought the change about
Led by a lady of noble peace…of extraordinaire
After decades of isolation, hope is finally in the air
Today, Myanmar’s artists and intellectuals are pushing boundaries of creative self-expression. Writers are giving readings at literary festivals. Musicians are fusing hip hop with traditional music, and painters are revealing works that for decades could be shared only with trusted friends.
“Myanmar in Motion” presents a specturm of exciting works by both masters and emerging artists. Together, their works have been shown in major cities such as Boston, Hong Kong, New York, Munich, Singapore and Toronto.
Of the works presented, some are openly political, other story the individual. And although Buddhism’s influences is evident in most of the works, but to burnish them merely as such, is to benign the torrent of different forces and movement sweeping across the nation and that the artists are capturing probably one most significant moment in history of Myanmar. Be a witness of a nation in motion.
As a highly respected art teacher in Myanmar’s leading art institution, Wint Tint feels that while he can impart the techniques of painting to his students, but he cannot teach the sense of feeling of art.
At first glance, the patterns of lines, brushworks, figures, space and forms evoke impressionist artworks that are strikingly realistic but at the same time dreamlike in emotion. In these ‘vast’ spaces, the clarity and blurriness, the light and shade, of dissolving colours create a serene beauty that is in contrast of the usually crowded area of the iconic Shwedagon temple of which the paintings get its inspiration from.
Wint Tint recounts a time when a friend after viewing his collection of works, suggested that he painted something different rather monasteries and pagodas. His calmly replied to his friend “ You still haven’t seen what I paint”.
Maw Thu Danu chooses to compose his works through the reflection of glass and mirrors so as to literally ‘reflect’ upon on the social, political and economic development in his country. The modern store window sprouting on the perimeters of ancient places of worship are no mere evidence of the growing wealth in Myanmar. In the eyes of Danu, they serve as his medium on which he expresses his concern on the impact of capitalism and consumerism on his beloved country. As much as he appreciates the benefits of economic growth on improving the living conditions of his people, he is equally concern about the cost of rapid development. He certainly hopes that people appreciates the visual aesthetic of his works of reflection, but more importantly, he wish that they will also perhaps take a moment to reflect upon the reflection within.
Khin Muang Zaw leads the new wave of water colourists that are emerging from Myanmar. Khin Muang Zaw’s superior skill in watercolor is apparent in his detailed pattern of intricate architecture, creases and folds of the fabric as well as the play of light and shadow. His breathtaking watercolor on paper observes the daily scenes young novices going about daily monastic life.
In this body of work, the artist pays homage to Buddhism, which, for generations, has been an integral part of Myanmar’s culture. More importantly it is the strength from which the people draw upon to survive the decades of economic hardship and political oppression.
Since first time I set eyes on Moe Z’s works, I have witnessed a heartening evolution the years. His powerful and politically charged works are sought after in American and European art centres. The dominant presence of monks and nuns in unity evoke memories of the tumultuous times when segments of the country’s Buddhist establishments where involved in the civilian upsurge against the militant junta. It is as such heartening to see that over the years, like the country, Moe Z’s works are beginning to show signs of hopes and optimism, with the latest works featuring a young novice in hopeful prayer against a backdrop of illuminating light (see 1st page of this press release).
“I appreciate the value of light. Because of light, we can feel and see all objects. In my paintings, I always paint darkness in order to appreciate the light. Without light, everything is impossible. The dark in the paintings represents suffocation in this country where most people are trying to survive. There is only a very little hope, which is like a dim flickering light.
The main feature of my composition is this contrast between dark and light. The subject of my work – monks and nuns – is almost incidental” A Moe Z