PanSuriya Art Post

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).


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


Youth of Yangon, Yangon Skateboarders

Pansodan Gallery has been bursting at the seams for some time. We are going to add a new room — a block and a half down Pansodan, toward the river, on the east side of the street (just like Pansodan Original).

The first exhibition in that space opens to the public today.  There are photographic portraits by Henry Kingsford, plus a documentary short directed by James Holman, screening at seven thirty each evening. A new view of the city we love.

The aim of this event is to shine a light on the Burmese skateboarding community, highlighting how despite not being supported by anyone the Burmese skateboarders continue to try and skate together and be a creative community in Yangon. This overcoming of adversity is ever more poignant with the demolition of Thuwanna skate last year (which had been the centre and place of refuge for the skaters for the last 15 years) and more recently the complete abandonment of the City Center skatepark by the current manager of the shopping mall next to the the skatepark, and who—until recently—was responsible for both the mall and the skatepark.

We do not have a sign up yet at the new place, but you can find it by looking. It is at N° 144, on the second floor, up the staircase nearest Maha Bandoola. Look for the large poster competing with many smaller ones. The venue opens at five in the evening; “Youth of Yangon” documentary screening daily at half past seven. Closing at eight. The site is Pansodan Street, middle block, up the staircase nearest Maha Bandoola. It is on the second floor. 

skateboard lorez

We will be renovating the space soon, but for now it is pretty much as it was in 1969, just a little worn but full of possibility.

Art makes experience visible

Images of Conflict, Impressions of Peace, a collaboration of Pansodan with the British Council, begins today at the British Council in Yangon. [Results are now online.]

The new stakes in Myanmar in 2012 bring new opportunities, and the changing context calls for a multifaceted approach to understanding conflict and creating a platform for peace. The peace processes in Myanmar have become a public issue. Thus the entire citizenry should be included in building a just and sustainable peace. Creating peace should not be the rôle of the élite alone; any thoughtful person can explore ways to approach conflict and violence, and create initiatives for peace.

Pansodan Art Gallery is participating by initiating a project which seeks to assist in  understanding conflict and developing cultural approaches to peace, and to create culturally appropriate interventions and strategies. We are very happy to welcome Guatemalan artist and activist Delia Maria Davila is bringing her experience to Burma for this time, which has turned into an even more conflict-filled time than anticipated when the programme was conceived.

Visual arts can be a powerful vehicle for dialogue on and transmission of personal experiences and stories, while also creating an open space for interaction for communities to freely interact and express their concerns and experiences, especially in fragile situations Myanmar is now facing. Art makes experience visible.

Sound too abstract? Stop by Pansodan Art Gallery to join the conversation.

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.



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.