PanSuriya Art Post

Scene : Shwe Thein Solo Show
16 February 2014, 18:47
Filed under: exhibit | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Shwe Thein’s solo show at Pansodan Scene is particularly accomplished.

 Pansodan Scene Shwe Thein show

He has never forgotten his Rakhine boats, and other scenes of his home. The Yangon paintings have a creamy touch and careful colours. In this exhibition he has introduced a new series, of Rakhine wrestling, as well.

Open 10–6 every day until 21 February 2014.


Bazundaung Riverside Afternoons

In this exhibition, Thu Rein is showing off two series of paintings — some are a straightforward and lovely realism, some are a fresh take which gives an impression of cubism while in fact maintaining a realist approach.

The painter Thu Rein (who sometimes signs himself Thu Rein.M, sometimes Thu Rein Sann, sometimes Thu Rein.MS) began a self-portrait, reflected in the mirror-mosaic of a pagoda wall, seven years ago (see image below). It took him many visits to pagodas, looking at mirrored tiles until he was dizzy before he got the colours, images, shapes and impression he was looking for.

This was the beginning of a series of images shown in the fragments silvery tiles which adorn many pagoda walls. In News Hunter (centre painting in this blog’s header) he depicts parts of a face reflected in a pattern of mirrors, with a camera at the centre, half-hidden behind green leaves, and with the gilded embellishments and other elements of a monastery all around and overlapping the hunter.

He travelled around the country, to Magway, Minbu, Pyinmana and many other places, where he painted whatever caught his eye reflected in the mirrored surfaces. In the painting of the brass Buddha image from Pyinmana, little other than the sheen and colour is reflected. In another, titled Two Friends (see image below), hardly any of the faces of the friends shows, subsumed by the reflections of gold, brass, and the colours of their shirts. The Faceless is another of this series, in which a fragmented person with hints of hair and hand is outdone by his surroundings.

The other series is of the twilight over the Bazundaung River, which shapes and divides the eastern side of Yangon. Views of the city from Thaketa and Thingangyun neighbourhoods, or from Bazundaung itself show the rich colours of dusk. He became entranced by the colours of the sunsets, the fiery sky reflected in the water. Many of the paintings are anchored by the Shwe Dagon, which from that side soars above the town. Another is painting in a bit of North Okkalappa, along the same waterway. In this one, the pagoda popularly called ‘Yangon Thabyinnyu’ and the bank of the river with modest huts make the scene look like a little piece of Bagan, but with a hulk of a building on the horizon where the hills might be in the ancient capital.

A few plein air pictures with other themes round out the exhibition which will be showing until 13 March 2013, at Pansodan Art Gallery, from 10-6 (open until late on Tuesday).


Interview with Nance Cunningham in Pansodan Art Gallery, 11 March 2013

Thu Rein.M Second Solo Show at Pansodan

Thu Rein.M Second Solo Show at Pansodan

Thu Rein.M solo exhibition at Pansodan

Thu Rein.M solo exhibition at Pansodan

Thu Rein.M My Self

Thu Rein.M My Self

Thu Rein.M Two Friends

Thu Rein.M Two Friends

A Flower wants just to Bloom — San Zaw Htway

On 13 January 2012, when a major amnesty was announced, San Zaw Htway was in prison near Taunggyi, working on a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi executed in the crimped edges of Coffeemix[1] packets on a black plastic bag. He did not know whether he would be included in the amnesty or not, so kept working on the picture late into the night. The next day he was freed.

I wondered if my thoughts would be happier if I tried creating some flower beds.

Among the things he left behind was a large picture of tulips, hung in the prison library. It is one of many pictures he made out of scraps of card, bags, and plastic scavenged from family parcels. He took boxes which had come into the prison full of treats brought by families of prisoners, smoothed them out, covered them in cut-up bags, and then snipped sweet wrappers, powdered-drink packets, labels of every kind. San Zaw Htway had started making these pictures in 2006, when such work was sometimes tolerated, but not officially allowed. Some early ones were lost, but he comforted himself with the knowledge that he had to skill in his mind and hands to make more.

San Zaw Htway had been a cloth merchant before his arrest at the age of 24. Years later, in 2006, he heard about an artist, Htein Lin, who had exhibited paintings made from recycled materials when he was released from prison. At that time, in San Zaw Htway’s prison, they could not get brushes, paints, canvas, or even paper. But the word ‘recycle’ stuck in his mind. Then he noticed the colourful plastics which sometimes blew about the prison grounds, and began to collect them.

The first picture he made was a replica of a well-known photograph of Bogyoke Aung San. San Zaw Htway felt strengthened by the presence of the leader’s gaze in his cell. As he composed the pictures in his mind, and worked on collecting and arranging the materials, the annoyances and sadnesses of prison life receded.

San Zaw Htway Prison recycled art Flowers

With the thought of how it might be like this if I could revive the withered lives of the 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids who I saw convicted for stealing, pickpocketing, disturbing, hiding, to make them beautiful again.

He cleverly used the materials at hand. Translucent white pagodas glimmer in the moonlight on the night of a black plastic bag. Trunks of palms are given texture from the portions of coffeemix bags which feature coffee beans. Little tulips are cut from the crinkly heat seals and scalloped edges of wrappers. In his pictures of flowers, each blossom has many different colours.

‘Flowers want just to bloom; they don’t expect anything more from it’, he says. ‘And no flower fails to bloom just because it is afraid to fade and fall.’

By the time San Zaw Htway was released, his pictures were known and appreciated in the prison. He was allowed to take out his remaining work upon his release. When he arrived home, he continued to make pictures from cuttings, but he was no longer retricted to the scale of flattened cake boxes. He has made large pictures of peacocks using the same techniques, which will be for sale at Pansodan Art Gallery in October, as well as works on canvas. The pictures he made in prison are not for sale; he plans to take them on tour as part of a larger project. “I could never recapture the mood that is in those pictures,” he said. “Not even if I went back to prison. The prisons now are not the same as then.”

23 – 27 October 2012

286 Pansodan, first floor (upper block)

Kyauktada, Yangon. Mobile: 0951 30846

Open daily 10 – 6.

[1] In this country where some of the best tea in the world is produced, most people do not care much about the quality of coffee, and favour packets of pre-mixed instant coffee, sugar, and coffee whitener.

From Cambodia to Burma
11 October 2012, 17:03
Filed under: exhibit | Tags: , , , , , , ,

David Richards started this project painting archtectural heritage in South-east Asia several years ago in Cambodia for an exhibition which celebrated the architectural heritage of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The success of that show gave him the interest in continuing in other countries. Although the buildings of the colonial period are fast being pulled down in Yangon, there is at least some effort to save it, where in the other countries there is little interest in the well-designed, lovely, and practical old buildings. While it is not at all sure that the atmosphere of the neighbourhoods where they remain will be rescued, at least there is some hope and interest. The architecture is an integral part of the urban landscape, and it is important to save it from destruction.

“Usually it is a building’s look of having been around for a long time that attracts me at first. I hope to raise the awareness of the value of these buildings, so it will spread through the society, and help preserve them. I focus on the buildings that look like they are being neglected.” The first one that he was attracted to in April was the Secretariat, which had broken windows, loose roofing, and so many different aspects from different angles. He sought out a photograph of the building before the earthquake of 1931, and painted it with the dome and spires that had been removed because of quake damage.

Richards appreciates buildings with human touch. “Modern buildings are all sharp and angular and box-like. The old ones are more like curved shapes you find in nature.” One aspect of Yangon he particularly appreciates is the varied backgrounds of the buildings. Along with buildings designed by Burmans and British, which you would expect to find, there is Islamic architecture, Indian-style design, Chinese buildings.

I am hoping that when people look at these paintings, I think they will first notice the beauty of it. But I hope it will inspire them to get involved in keeping these buildings in use. Maybe others will be inspired to do entirely different projects, depending on what their interest is, but I hope it will lead to good results in any field.

Read more about him here.

The exhibition runs from 16-20 October, at Pansodan Gallery, open from 10-6 daily.

286 Pansodan, first floor (upper block)
Kyauktada, Yangon.

Mobile: 0951 30846

High time for Myint Soe

Ko Myint Soe has been drawing and painting since he was in middle school. He has been developing his own vision in the intervening years, and now he’s ready to show it to the world. Exhibition at Pansodan Gallery starts on May Day and runs through 5 May 2012, during the usual hours, 10-6, but also with the usual arty party with fantastic snacks and conversation on Tuesday night.



New developments

A recent article in The Guardian included Pansodan co-owner Aung Soe Min’s comments. He is in there as one of the ‘winners’ in the changing business environment.

Here’s to hopes that almost all the winners are Burmese, or at least that benefits are fairly divided among those who sincerely work hard for the success of an enterprise — and not ‘fairly’ in the sense of ‘they are poor so they get only a poor share and should be glad of it; we are rich so we are the ones who get the money’.

There has been plenty of research on quality of life that shows that it depends on the perception of having a meaning or purpose to one’s life, and a warm social life with friends and family. Yet, when it comes to development, it is all about money. There is even a new trend to look at migration as something entirely positive as a development process — people migrate to Dubai or Australia or wherever, earn vastly more (i.e., are vastly more productive in economics terms), send remittances home, and thus are creators of development. True enough in pure economics terms, but this ignores the sacrifices that the migrants are making in non-economic factors, and the loss of social capital in their home community. (I am a migrant myself, so obviously not against migration, but I do not like to see it portrayed in black-and-white terms.) We know migrants who are important artists in various fields in Burma, but as migrants work in factories or do other work entirely unrelated to their talents. Those of us remaining behind, who appreciated their art regret this change in the meaning of their lives.

Pansodan’s contribution to improve the life or artists in their own country is the Independent Myanmar Artist Alliance, mentioned in the Guardian article. It was the idea of Aung Soe Min, and is hosted by Pansodan Gallery. It is a new model of professional association — somewhat like a union, but without most of the bureaucracy and positions that, no matter how noble the initial ideas, later tend to be used for obstruction and gain, or simply to lose their dynamism.

A few new drawings of the Lokanat, spirit of peace through art, by Eikaza Cho.

the last artscape of than myint aung

Once there as a man with a heart forged by a love of nature, beauty, and art.

In his life journey he poured his awe forth in paintings and poems.

This is his last artscape.

တစ်ခါတုန်းက သူ့နှလုံးသားကို သဘာဝတရား၊ အလှတရားနဲ့ အနုပညာတို့ကို ချစ်မြတ်နိုးခြင်းနဲ့ သွန်းလောင်းသွားတဲ့ လူတစ်ယောက် ရှိခဲ့ပါတယ်။
သူ့ရဲ့ ဘဝခရီးလမ်းတစ်လျှောက်မှာလည်း ပန်းချီကားတွေ၊ ကဗျာတွေကို အံ့ဘွယ် ပြန်လည်သွန်းလောင်းသွားခဲ့တယ်။
ဒါဟာ သူသွန်းလောင်းသွားခဲ့တဲ့ အနုပညာများရဲ့ နောက်ဆုံးပြပွဲပါပဲ။

Ko Than Myint Aung was our friend, and we were shocked at his early death in May this year. We have gathered as many of his paintings as we can to have a retrospective of his work, which is inspired by his awe for the beauty of nature, and shows his genial character. We open the exhibition with respect and sorrow from 14 to 19 July 2010.

To see many more of his works, and more information about him, see his page at the Heriot-Grant Gallery. For availability and pricing of the paintings you see here or to see more, email suriyagallery at gmail dot com

nats and vahanas

“It is only when you are eager to paint, and are free of grief and greed, healthy, and with the mind at peace, that you are in the frame of mind to accept uncertainty.” -Soe Naing

The Soe Naing and Chath Piersath exhibtion at the French Cultural Centre in Phnom Penh has closed. Many thanks to Erin Gleeson for making it happen. You can read about the painter in this article by Douglas Long in the Phnom Penh Post: Myanmar painter uses canvas to open gateway into the spirit world.

A quote from the article:

The paintings are rendered in thick dollops and sweeping swathes of paint that are placed on the canvas with a palette knife rather than a brush. Seeing the grain of the strokes, it is easy to visualise the artist’s vigorous gestures as he worked. The colours are often fresh and cheerful, standing in opposition to any sense of pessimism.

One visitor from Myanmar who viewed the exhibition last week said the colours were vivid enough to evoke more than just the visual experience of the nat pwe.

“When I see these paintings I hear the music of the nat pwe. I think [Soe Naing] expresses sounds through bright colours,” said Aye Sapay Pyu, on a month-long visit to Phnom Penh.

The nat pwe act as a gateway to the spirit world, and the figures are clearly from a place that is not our own, a realm populated by hermaphrodites, humanoid figures bearing sword-like weapons, and in one instance a horse and rider galloping across a black void.

The source of the otherworldly quality of these paintings is best explained by Soe Naing himself. Although he doesn’t claim to be channelling nats while he paints, he admits that the creative process is akin to being possessed by a spirit not beholden to the dictates of reason.

“Nats are in a state of trance;I am too, and so are my little humans. Nats are dynamic. I am in motion, too. so are my little humans,” he said.

Here is more about his thought and work on Yadanapura. An in-depth interview with him should be coming out in about a week, I will link to it here when it is online.

Here you can find an essay about him: A volcano exploding inside; a glacier flowing smoothly.

More works on paper can be viewed here. Contact us through the comments for availability and prices.

art and ideas 16 august: two authors reading
4 August 2009, 02:21
Filed under: art and ideas | Tags: , , , , ,

The next Art and Ideas evening will start at 5pm on Sunday, 16 August. There will be two authors speaking and reading from their work, Mo Tejani and Judyth Gregory–Smith.

Along with an evening with two very funny, very friendly writers, you can enjoy my newest bright blue herbal tea.

Judyth Gregory–Smith A trishaw called Kinny: journeys in Myanmar (Now retitled Myanmar: A Memoir Of Loss And Recovery, click to order)

Ms Gregory–Smith is a veteran travel journalist with numerous publications in international periodicals, and two books on Sulawesi — Sulawesi: Ujung Pandang to Kendari and Southeast Sulawesi – Islands of Surprises.

‘A Trishaw called Kinny: Journeys in Myanmar’ is an intimate, detailed travelogue packed with first-hand information. One theme of the book is royal cities. She explores and tells about their fascinating histories: numerous royal wives, abundant royal children and the massacre by each new king of his relatives to thwart any pretenders to the throne.

Her sharp observations and wit are put to good use in modern Myanmar, so different from its neighbours.

When she was planning a trip to Myanmar, she had tried to buy such a book to supplement the guide-books, but there were no travelogues later than the beginning of the 20th century. The books she could find were mainly on the political situation. Perhaps as a result, she the trip ended up being rich in unintended adventure travel experience. And soon there will be such a book.

Quote from ‘A Trishaw called Kinny: Journeys in Myanmar’

Richard and I first visited Myanmar, then called Burma, in 1987. Our passions were travel, nature, birds, other cultures and each other. The list is not in order. We were on leave from the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea.
“Wouldn’t it be good to see what my opposite number is doing in the Embassy in Burma?’ he’d said, which in Richard-speak really meant ‘Wouldn’t it be good to traipse through jungles and swamps to study Burma’s rainforest birds and animals.’

Richard’s opposite number in Burma was on my side. He arranged civilized visits to the Strand, the Shwedagon, Pegu, Pagan and Mandalay. No swamps. The powers-that-were permitted a visa for only two-weeks, but that was enough to fall in love with the country.

We vowed to return. And I did. Alone. Richard died in 2001. Had it not been for my daughter, I might not have returned. Fiona and her partner Patrick work for the International Committee of the Red Cross and were posted there. To spend time with them and my grandchildren, I would return to Myanmar.

This book – a geographical, historical and personal journey – also charts my own journey of recovery and self-discovery after the death of Richard. I travel alone throughout Myanmar visiting not only the well-known pagodas and monasteries, but also isolated villages, farming communities and schools. I use public transport, stay at family-run guesthouses and meet with the local people who are rich in culture, but poor in material possessions.

Mo Tejani A Chameleon’s Tale: true stories of a global refugee

Mohezin (“Mo”) Tejani—an Indian Shia Muslim by

a chameleon's tale

a chameleon\’s tale, design by Doug Morton, 72 Studio

ancestry—was expelled from Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1972. Torn apart from his family and exiled from the continent of his birth, he was suddenly left homeless, with little sense of his own cultural identity. As a refugee, he first fled to England and then to America in the early seventies. Fluent in eight languages, he has spent twenty years working in refugee camps in Asia, training rural farmers in Central America, educating First Nation tribes in Canada, and coordinating poverty reduction projects in Africa.

Over the last five years, Mo has returned to his childhood passion–writing. The first volume of his memoirs, “A Chameleon’s Tale: True Stories of a Global Refugee” is a reflection of his life of travel and the continued search for a place he can call home. As one reviewer noted, Tejani is “a cross-cultural Jack Kerouac”

Mo currently resides in Chiang Mai, Thailand and writes feature articles, poetry, and essays for various magazines worldwide. A Chameleon’s Tale was chosen as a finalist for a PEN Book Award in 2007. In 2004, his “stalking interview” in Bangkok with Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul appeared in Untamed Travel Magazine, distributed all over Southeast Asia. The second volume of his travel memoirs, Global Crossroads, due for publication in 2010, focuses on the psychological alienation of exile and ultimately the liberation from his own cultural chains.

Quote from A Chameleon’s Tale

Children were everywhere in the streets of Vietnam…. On the sandy beach, a grouop of five cornered me: two boys with Chiclets and imported cigarettes, adn three girls with fresh pineapples, oranges, and dragon fruit, all in season…. On a whim, I decided to try an experiment with [the] gang of entrepreneurs.

“If I promise to buy two things from each of you, you must agree to play on the beach for the next two hours. Okay?”

They all looked at mu suspiciously at first. The questions were endless. What was I up to? How could they be sure I would keep my promise at the end of the two hours? What if their mothers caught them playing on the beach and not selling their quota for the day? They must leave before five o’clock for Hoi An City Hall to sell to the workers on their way home.

Once assured that I was sincere in my offer, they had a private meeting among themselves. When they came back, Tranh mad eme specify the two things I would buy from each of them, the price I would pay for each item, and when the playing time would be over. Finally, after twenty minutes, we concluded our negotiations.

Twenty minutes. Smiles all around. Back in 1973, it took Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho twenty days — while the killing continued on both sides — to agree on which directions the tables they sat at would face during the peace treaty in Paris. Later that year, both men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the war. Kissinger accepted the award; Le Duc Tho did not.

Read reviews of the book in the Chiang Mai Mail here, and in Book Review Journal here.

About the event

As always, a portion of the sales from the event will be donated to local organisation Cultural Canvas, which provides art experiences for disadvantaged children in and around Chiang Mai.

Location: click me for google map

Find Suriya Gallery in the western part of Chiang Mai, Thailand near Chiang Mai University, on Huay Kaew Road. It is at No. 2, Hotel Bua Luang, Soi Bua Luang (the same soi as Holiday Garden), off Huay Kaew Road. Look for the spray-paint Suriya Art Gallery sign before you get to the hotel gate, or park in the Nice Nails/Mr Chan and Miss Pauline’s Pizza parking lot at the mouth of the soi, and walk through the gate, keeping to the left, to No. 2.

29 March Art and Ideas : Hide & Seek
5 March 2009, 00:26
Filed under: art and ideas, food | Tags: , , , ,

Hide and Seek:  Social Commentary in Contemporary Burmese Art


In this visual presentation, Jacquelyn Suter from Goldleaf Myanmar will give us a unique glimpse on how artists in Burma today express their interpretations of their society. Rare works not seen by public will be shown.

See the Chiang Mai Mail’s write-up of the talk here.

As always, ten per cent of any art sales, and 20 per cent of any other sales will be donated to a local organisation, Cultural Canvas, to provide art experiences for the children of migrants in Chiang Mai.

This event is free and open to all.


15 March : Art and Ideas : Narratives in Thai and Burmese Wall Paintings

Alexandra Green gave an illustrated talk exploring the Buddhist subject matter of Thai and Burmese wall paintings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A summary of the talk as written up in the Chiang Mai Mail newspaper is here.


The murals are largely composed of illustrations of the Jataka stories, the life of Gotama Buddha, the spiritual planes of the universe which address the concept of rebirth, celestial beings, mythical creatures, and Himavanta Forest. Delving into the layout of the wall paintings, the significance of the images is revealed. The imagery is more complex than immediately apparent. Strong links to popular beliefs emerge, even in the context of sacred stories.

You can read Dr Green’s research on paintings at Tilokaguru cave-temple in Sagaing online in the SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research here.

Her most recent book is Eclectic Collecting: Art from Burma in the Denison Museum.

temples in anein village

Alexandra Green is a curator in the Asia Department at the British Museum. Previously, she has been a research assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Hong Kong, where she worked on a book on Burmese murals and a project comparing Thai and Burmese wall paintings, and Dr. Green has been director and curator of Asian Art at the Denison Museum at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, USA. In addition to publishing articles on Burmese murals, she has edited two volumes on Burmese art, including “Burma: Art and Archaeology” for the British Museum Press and “Eclectic Collecting: Art from Burma in the Denison Museum”, published by Singapore University Press. Dr. Green’s Ph.D. is from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK.

As always, ten per cent of any art sales, and 20 per cent of any other sales will be donated to a local organisation, Cultural Canvas, to provide art experiences for the children of migrants in Chiang Mai.

For info:


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