PanSuriya Art Post

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.