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.

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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).

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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.

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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




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