PanSuriya Art Post

saw lin aung

Cool and relaxed

As a teenager, Saw Lin Aung used to help out his father, who painted movie posters, without understanding much about painting. Later he went through formal training, but when asked about how much theory there is in his paintings, he says zero percent — theory is like water, he says. When you take a shower, you let the water go, just the coolness remains.

When he started working as a painter, he worked for a Korean company copying oil paintings all day, and painting his own at night. At that time, he painted the conventional scenes: monks, minority woman in costume, village scenes, all in a photorealistic style. His studio was in the garden of a friend’s house, and he and his friends got together to put on exhibitions. He got his break when someone with a large commercial art commission noticed his handiwork. Those earnings gave him enough to buy supplies and the time to paint, and since then he has been able to earn his living as a painter.

Born in the river town of Twante, he started painting boats, but he gradually realised that he was more interested in the reflections. Now, while his paintings often show off his skill at realistic portrayal, he uses realism for effect, rather than as a default. A photo-realistic picture of two cloves of garlic, for example, reproduces the proportions of two friends of his who married.

He painted a portrait of his own sunlit ear after thinking about how the ultimately comes to one through the ears. ‘If you don’t hear anything, you won’t be afraid. Only when you hear a a sound will the fear come.’ All happiness and sadness will arrive in the mind through the ear. So the painter thinks about the sense of hearing.

Although he might paint small paintings, depending on the subject, a large canvas gives him more of a thrill.  And he paints because it makes him happy, after all. He would like people to feel cool and relaxed when they look at his water paintings, ‘That is how I feel when I paint them, too.’

‘Even a great painter might produce a great painting only one time out of ten,’ he says. People should not rely on a famous name to get a great painting, but should develop their art sense, he says. Some famous painters have got stuck going on and on with the same sort of painting which was a good idea at first, but later repeated too often. They get trapped by their success.

Saw Lin Aung’s interests in images are always changing; currently he is trying to capture a freshness through choice of image and manipulation of colour. We get a sense of his good humour and fluid spirit as well.

Interview by Nance Cunningham, Yangon, January 2011.

For more art conversations, click on the ‘art conversation’ tag at the top of this post.

Born in Twante, Myanmar in 1982.

Graduated from State School of Fine Art 2004

Myanmar  Exhibitions

2004 – 1st Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2004 – 2nd Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2005 – 3rd Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2005 – 4th Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2006 – 5th Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2006 – Solids I – Bogyoke Market

2006 – All Myanmar Artists – Mandalay City Hall

2006 – X’s Season – Park Royal Hotel

2007 – 6th Colour Stream –   Bogyoke Market

2007 – Solids II, Lokanat Art Gallery

2007 – Best Paintings of the Year 2007 – Tun Foundation Bank

2008 – 7th Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2008 – Solids III – Bogyoke Market

2008 – Amazing One – Amayadawei Art Gallery

2009 – ” Flow to the Shan State ” 8th Colour Stream – Azada Art Gallery

2009 – 9th Colour Stream – Bogyoke Market

2009 – Best Paintings of the Year 2009 – Tun Foundation Bank

2009 – Myanmar Realist – Myanmar Art Centre

2010 – Second Second — Pansodan Gallery

2010 – Insert Title Here — Pansodan Gallery

Oversea Exhibitions

2009 – “Myanmar Discovered”, Group Show, Hong Kong

2009 – Contemporary Myanmar Art Exhibition, New York, USA


2007            Honorable Prize at Best Paintings of the year 2007 – Tun Foundation Bank

2008            Honorable Prize at “Beauty of Myanmar” – Oasis Art Gallery, Yangon

2009            Honorable Prize at Best Paintings of the year 2009 – Tun Foundation Bank


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