PanSuriya Art Post

Melissa Finkenbiner: Last Compositions
22 January 2014, 18:23
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Melissa Finkenbiner: Man

Melissa Finkenbiner: Man

Many of Melissa Finkenbiner’s oil paintings are about the touch of the profound to the mundane. Striving to bring out how ones identity can be gained or lost in a moment and wanting to make the subjects of her paintings universal, she realised that not only clothing, but even hair identified people as being from a particular time and place. Since then she has frequently painted people without hair. Two years ago she arrived in Yangon, where she realised that this concept had already been put into effect for many centuries.

She has explored more deeply in this direction while living in Yangon by letting the sights, ideas, mythology and visual language influence her work. Some works, like the monk in Sleeping and Dying, draw closely and clearly on her observations. In this work, the awkward position of the monk lying not far from a reclining Buddha makes the viewer unsure whether he is sleeping or dead. This leads the thoughts to the life of a monk, who has given up the possessions and family which loom so large in most lives. In fact, Melissa points out, when we die, all that remains are our acts and deeds. The monks are living that out now, but it is true for us all once we are dead. Other works are homages to works of old masters such as Parmigianino and Caravaggio. Her painting ‘The Chinthei and his Son’, for example, draws on Caravaggio’s ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ but reading the mistaken killing of the chinthe by his son through the famous painting of the wrongful execution of St John. Ideas of transformation — from ignorance to knowledge, from working to creating, from rage to peace, from life to death — predominate in many of the paintings.  Melissa Finkenbiner came to Pansodan Gallery on 21 January 2014 to talk about her work and her upcoming exhibition at Pansodan Scene.

What are your main artistic influences?

Caravaggio Beheading of St John the Baptist

Caravaggio Beheading of St John the Baptist

Finkenbiner Chinthei

Finkenbiner The Chinthei and his Son

Artemisia Gentileschi, Tomasz Rut, Caravaggio, and Michael Buesking are the core ones I always come back to. My style reminds some people of mannerists, and the end of the Baroque period. Even though I love art from every movement, that’s a movement that I go back to because it has this art that is partly based on what you see in reality, but also on an ideal. For me, I don’t see the point of painting exactly what’s in a photograph. Why is seeing somebody sleeping in a monastery interesting? My art is about taking what you can’t see in a photograph and changing the balance, the colours, bringing out the ideas. It’s about making something mundane seem monumental, getting those thoughts across.

What impact do you hope this exhibition might have on the Burmese art community?

Melissa Finkenbiner: Sleeping and Dying

Melissa Finkenbiner: Sleeping and Dying

Melissa Finkenbiner: Sleeping and DyingI was a bit worried about that at first. [Founder of Nawaday Thalar Gallery] Pyay Way said he had never seen a monk painted sleeping, though is how you always see the monks. It is closer to reality than a painting of monks walking into the sunset.  It is unique but still grounded in what is Myanmar. When people look at my pieces they can tell exactly where I painted them.  These are Myanmar.

How does your interest in mythology shape your artistic ambitions?

Sometimes I think mythological stories tell more truth than other narratives. Mythology tells the stories of how people react to the situations they are in and reflect universal truths about human nature.  However, mythological stories also contain characteristics and themes that are unique to the cultures from which they are derived.   The myth of the Chinthe was a beautiful story and one that is very much a part of Myanmar. However, you could compare the myth of the Chinthe to Western mythology and find many of the same story elements. It is a beautiful thing.

Melissa Finkenbiner studied art at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, USA. She has been living in Yangon for two years. Her exhibition Last Compositions, can be seen 25 January – 2 February at Pansodan Scene, 144 Pansodan, Second Floor, Middle Block, Kyauktada, Yangon. Her website is

Interview by Nance Cunningham and Kirt Mausert

The City as Sculpture
11 January 2014, 15:53
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City as Sculpture med

On Sunday, we launch a new set of services. Want to try out a painting? Need variety? You can arrange to have art on your walls changed every three months. Need consulting on art as part of interior design? We have the people to match your taste in art. To find out more, come to The City as Sculpture exhibition at Pansodan Scene for a presentation at 2:00 pm. Or, contact us any time.

Impressionism and the Exotic
8 January 2014, 14:45
Filed under: art and ideas | Tags: , , , ,

Some European impressionist painters searched outside of their homelands for inspiration. Why,

Monet Seine and Sea, by Frances Fowle, click for Amazon link

and what did they see?

Pansodan Scene is very pleased to invite the art-loving public and artists to Dr. Frances Fowle’s exploration of the searches of the Impressionist painters. Her illustrated talk, Impressionism and the Exotic: in search of new styles and subjects will be in English, with summaries in Burmese.

Pansodan is very pleased to have the art historian and curator sharing her knowledge and ideas with the Yangon art community. Dr Fowle is Reader in History of Art at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Curator of French art at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, has written widely on impressionist painters.

Click the links to some of her books to see them on Amazon, the latest of which is American Impressionism: A New Vision, 1880-1900, co-written with Katherine Bourguignon.

click to see on Amazon

Frances Fowle Impressionism and Scotland

VanGtoKand, Click for Amazon link VanGoghTwin

Exchange Ideas, Exchange Peace
5 January 2014, 18:43
Filed under: performance | Tags: , , ,

by Jessica Olney


The Peace Exchange Peace Builders (left to right): Jessica Disu, Marquetta Monroe, Tanya Smith, Dennis Johnson and Timothy McBride

Gun and gang-related violence plagues Chicago and many other U.S. cities. But some young people of those cities are taking steps against it. Some of these are Chicago-based performers who are currently visiting Myanmar as participants in The Peace Exchange. On 8 January they will perform alongside their local counterparts at Pansodan Scene. The evening will feature hip hop, slam poetry, spoken word and music from local Myanmar indie bands. The performance at Pansodan Scene will be held on the last night of the two-week Peace Exchange.


လူ႕ေဘာင္အဖြဲ႔ အစည္း အၾကမ္းဖက္ မူမရွိေစလိုေသာ ကမာၻေျမၾကီးကို ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေစလိုေသာ Chicago မွာလူူငယ္မ်ားႏွင့္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ရွိ ရွမ္းျပည္ေအာင္ပန္း ႏွင့္ ခ်င္း ကခ်င္ ႏွင့္ အနယ္နယ္အရပ္ရပ္ မွ ရန္ကုန္ၿမိဳ႔တြင္ေရာက္ရွိ ေနေသာ လူငယ္မ်ားရဲ႔ အႏုပညာႏွင့္ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းျခင္း ဂီတ ဖလွယ္ပြဲျပဳ ကို လုပ္မည္ျဖစ္ပါသည္..(၈) ရက္ ဇန္န၀ါရီလ ည ၆ နာ၇ီမွ ၉ နာရီထိ လူငယ္မ်ား၏ ပူးေပါင္းဖန္တီး သီဆို ကျပ မည္ျဖစ္ပါသျဖင့္ မၾကည္႔လိုက္ရသည္ မျဖစ္ရေအာင္ လက္တို႔ ေျပာလိုက္ပါမယ္.

The Peace Exchange exposes young peace activists from the most violence-affected areas of Chicago to global perspectives on peace and conflict, and their thoughts and adventures can be followed here.

The Peace Builders, as the participants are known, are youth leaders working for peace in their communities through art, music, advocacy and education. One of the Peace Exchange co-founders, Jessica Disu, is a hip hop recording artist who has performed internationally to promote hip hop as a medium of peace, and encourages youth to examine hip hop’s language of violence. ‘The idea is that we equip youth peace leaders or young adult leaders of Chicago with the necessary tools and wisdom to become effective peace builders in their community,’ Disu said.

Dennis Johnson, Marquetta Monroe, Eddie Merma, Tanya Smith, Henry Cervantes, Jessica Disu of Chicago Peace Exchange

Dennis Johnson, Marquetta Monroe, Eddie Merma, Tanya Smith, Henry Cervantes, Jessica Disu

While in Myanmar, The Peace Exchange will meet with local peace workers, interfaith leaders, educators, members of the monastic community, artists, musicians and others addressing issues of conflict, peace and violence. They will be followed by two filmmakers from Free Spirit Media, a Chicago-based youth media collective. Free Spirit Media will make a short documentary conveying the learning process. This will be screened for thousands of community members to stimulate conversation in an attempt to seek alternative approaches to reducing gun and gang-related violence. At the documentary screenings, discussions will be held to address questions such as: Why does the amount of street violence vary so much in different cultures? How does violence play out differently in different cultures? What lessons on peace do Asian traditions have to contribute to the peace building process in the U.S.? Are Americans more violent than Myanmar people?

Peace Exchange co-founder Jessica Olney is an educator who has been working with Myanmar youth and activists for several years. She helped create The Peace Exchange to explore the fact that, although poverty and social exclusion are high in many parts of the world, levels of street violence vary dramatically. The Peace Exchange will look at the cultural elements that contribute to building peaceful communities, as well as the different manifestations of violence that occur in different places. Read more about them here.

ပန်းဆိုးတန်းတော်၊ ၁၁၄ ပန်းဆိုးတန်း ဒုတိယထပ် (ငါးဘာသာကျောင်းနှင်မျက်နှာချင်းဆိုင်)

Pansodan Scene, 144 Pansodan, second floor, corner of Maha Bandoola, across from the Ganesh Temple. Performance runs from 6:00–9:00 pm.

Zen Pencils Meet-up
Notice to Burmese Zen Pencils readers!  Gavin Aung Than will be visiting Yangon early in January for the first time. He will be having a meet-up for local Zen Pencils readers on Sunday 5 January at Pansodan Scene, 144 Pansodan, Second Floor, in the centre of Yangon.
If you’re free come by and say hi, he would love to meet some of you. It will be a casual event and just a chance to hang out informally at a simple cafe. 
Time: 1pm – 2.30pm