Filed under: art conversation, exhibit | Tags: artist, burma, burmese, myanmar, painter, painting, pansodan, Pansodan Art Gallery, thu rein m, thu rein sann, thu rein.ms, Thurein M, Yangon
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
Filed under: exhibit | Tags: Art, bagi aung soe, bagyi aung soe, burmese, myanmar, painting, pangyi aung soe, pansodan, Yangon
Bagyi Aung Soe blew the Burmese art world’s mind open with the freedom of his mind. An exhibition honouring his work starts in the expanded Pansodan space, near Maha Bandoola. The staircase just north of Maha Bandoola on Pansodan, second floor.
Filed under: exhibit | Tags: A Flower Wants Just to Bloom, Art, စန်းဇော်ထွေး, burma, burmese, collage, myanmar, pansodan gallery, prison, prison art, recycled, recycled art, San Zaw Htway, San Zaw Htwe
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 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.
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.
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.
 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.