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Archive for the ‘Myanmar/Burmese’ Category

Myanmar artists access international art community, Art Radar speaks to Aye Ko about +ROAD

Posted by artradar on August 3, 2010


ART PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEW MYANMAR ARTIST AND ART SCENE

Late last month, Art Radar spoke with Nindityo Adipurnomo, one of the executive directors of Cemeti Art House, about the recent “+ROAD” collaborative project and exhibition between five young artists from Myanmar and five from Indonesia. He presented our readers with valuable insight into the Indonesian art climate and his perspective on the project.

Art Radar Asia thought it important to find out what is going on in Myanmar, so we contacted Aye Ko, Executive Director of New Zero Art Space and one of the participating artists in the exhibition. Here is what he had to say…

Aye Ko with some of his paintings

Outreaching to one of the most prestigious art centers in Asia

The reason why Aye Ko initiated the “+ROAD” project, as he said, was because he knew that Cemeti Art House is one of the most important art centers in Asia. He had had his first experience with Cemeti Art House when he invited the two executive directors, Nindityo Adipurnomo and his wife Mella Jaarsma, to the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange Program in 2009, where New Zero Group tried its best to build mutual understanding and connections with Cemeti. The project was initiated as a further step towards collaboration.

Aye Ko was keen for New Zero Group to learn from Cemeti Art House. He says,

The whole project was what we asked Nindityo for. The detailed program was planned by Cemeti Art House. As you know, Cemeti Art House’s experience is about twenty years, but honestly New Zero is just green. That’s why we need to learn from them.

Access to a passport the major selection criteria for Myanmar artists

According to Aye Ko, the most important consideration in the selection of Myanmar artists to participate in “+ROAD” was whether the artists held a valid passport, which is very difficult and costly to obtain in Myanmar. The second consideration was whether the artists could concentrate on their artwork and be serious about it. The final consideration: selecting a variety of artists who produced different genres and styles of work.

The “+ROAD” project ran for two weeks; an exhibition followed. Although two weeks is not a long time, Aye Ko did have a chance to observe the Indonesian art scene, culture and developing environment, especially during the workshops, when he and the other artists had friendly conversations and shared their knowledge, opinions and ideas. He attributes their successful communication to patience, understanding and a passion for arts, especially new media and contemporary art.

When Aye Ko and other artists brainstormed ideas in workshops, they didn’t know these ideas would be used to put together an exhibition; the news came as a surprise as well as a headache when the Cemeti organisers broke it. The artists began to seriously discuss their ideas: ways of presenting them as well as the use of materials, lighting and space. Aye Ko explained that this process is how great artworks are created and how artists gain respect and admiration from each other.

Myanmar artists need to learn from their Indonesian counterparts

Presentation of ideas and reflections on society were usually different for each of the artists involved in the “+ROAD” project, who had different ideas and emotions because of their unique social-cultural backgrounds and corresponding identities, but Aye Ko appreciated the differences. As he explains,

The sense of art could be promoted through sharing. Different ideas could also help [us] to understand more about their passion and identities. We also have an opportunity to oppose a view point.

Aye Ko felt that two weeks were a rather short period of time in which to brainstorm ideas and produce a piece of artwork, but overall he enjoyed the experience. It gave him the opportunity to discover different ideas and styles in others’ artwork and to learn from the Indonesian artists. As he explains,

I saw how hard working the artists from Indonesia are. I think the Indonesia artists concentrated a lot on their art and the ideas and they feel deeply about their art. I feel that we, Myanmar artists, need to work more, concentrate more and improve our communication.

Aye Ko’s view of the Myanmar art scene and future prospects

Aye Ko believes that projects like “+ROAD” are crucial for educating Myanmar artists and exposing them to international art practices and standards.

[The] Myanmar art scence is isolated from other countries. It needs to develop internationally and take time to develop enough for [the] international [art community]. Indonesian artists are catching up with international artists. [The] international art society is interested in Indonesia artists, in my opinion. There are many museums in Indoneisa but there is only one in Myanmar.

This project is a very crucial event, not only for me but also for New Zero Art Space, Myanmar artists and arts, and new generation artists. Because our country is isolated, it can [be] directed from an isolated country to a free and open art society. With this hope, I am trying to do different types of projects which can give [me] more knowledge.

[By] displaying these exchange programs, Myanmar artists knock the door of international art society for the first time.

As I said, I am planning to make this kind of event in Myanmar. We already did the Nippon-Myanmar Performance Art Exchange (2001/2005/2009), the Hong Kong-Myanmar Performance Art Exchange (2010), the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange (2009), and the Artists Residency Program (2010). There will also be the Mekong Contemporary Art Exchange in Vietnam and Bangkok this month. These events motivate me to do more art events continuously in order to promote international standards for local artists and new generation artists.

CBKM/KN

Related Topics: Myanmar artists, Indonesian artists, art spaces, collaborative art

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist Nationality, Artist-run, Collaborative, Directors, Indonesian, Interviews, Medium, Multi category, Myanmar/Burmese, New Media, Nindityo Adipurnomo, Professionals, Styles, Z Artists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

27 contemporary Southeast Asian artists featured in ASEAN-Korea photo exhibition

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2010


KOREAN ASEAN CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION

Created to showcase the range of dynamic contemporary photography coming from Korean and Southeast Asian artists, Emerging Wave“, currently on view at the GoEun Museum of Photography in Busan (South Korea), features works from 27 artists ranging from emerging creators to established veterans.

Established in March 2009, the ASEAN-Korea Centre promotes both cultural and economic cooperation between Korea and the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) member countries. The organisation  recently partnered with Seoul Art Centre’s Hangaram Art Museum to open their 2010 photo exhibition which features 27 artists from 11 countries.

The exhibition, which is the second since ASEAN-Korea Centre’s launch, exposes the international community to new work by some of Southeast Asia’s brightest contemporary photographers. While many of the participants are veterans, the exhibition gives younger artists exposure to the contemporary art scene of a major city such as Seoul.

“Emerging Wave” attracts artists from all over ASEAN region

For example, for emerging Bruneian photographers Hirfian Hussain and Akmal Benangsutera, the exhibition is an opportunity to showcase the budding photography scene in their home country, as well as a chance to connect with dedicated artists from outside of Brunei.

Artists well-established in other media also make up this year’s selected names such as Burmese performance and installation artist Po Po. While not considered a prolific artist – he has had only two solo exhibitions since 1987 – his work is thoughtful and full of depth. As an artist who works with different media there is much crossover within his work. With his photography he employs elements of cubism, a movement he considers to be painting’s “highest state of intellectual approach.”

Po Po, Searching for Identity: Bottle # 1, 2002-2007, C-print, 167 x 305 cm

Po Po, 'Searching for Identity: Bottle # 1', 2002-2007, C-print, 167 x 305 cm.

“How can I make cubist photos which present every aspect of a thing? These works are not objects of material.  They are objects of mind”.

Although in an article on the Myanmar Times website Po Po states his distinterest in “flashy technology or visual hype”, his selected photos demonstrate his willingness to experiment with newer media to create complex, visually stimulating images without losing the sincerity of his message.

Like Po Po, Singaporean artist Mintio incorporates multiple overlapping angles in photos from her “Concrete Euphoria” series (2008-2009).

Mintio, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 2008, D-print, 152 x 122 cm

Mintio, 'Kuala Lumpur City Centre', 2008, D-print, 152 x 122 cm.

In spite of being relatively young Mintio, who got her start at a major commercial studio at age 16, has already created a stir with her documentation of Asia’s largest cities using long-exposure techniques. For Mintio, the process is about both rediscovery and finding the unknown in familiar things.

“At the end of the day, no matter how familiar we think we are with a person or a place, there always will be jewels left undiscovered. Perhaps the answer of what a place or city means might just be a continuous journey of finding those jewels.”

Also on display is work by fellow Singaporean Zhao Renhui, a resident artist and member of the Institute of Critical Zoologists. Zhao channels his fascination with man’s perception of animals into photos sometimes depicting live or taxidermy creatures, and other times depicting man’s often futile attempts to be at one with nature. In an interview with Asian Photography Blog, Zhao expresses the idea that photography is a medium through which people “relate to animals and the world”. At the same time it is a medium which “blurs the distinction between fact and fiction”. In one particular image he presents a zoologist who appears nearly invisible with the aid of a camoflague cloak and photo manipulation.

Zhao Renhui, Tottori Sand Dunes, 2009, archieval piezographic print, 84 x 121 cm

Zhao Renhui, 'Tottori Sand Dunes', 2009, archieval piezographic print, 84 x 121 cm.

In doing so, Zhao presents a surreal image as reality and challenges the validity of photography as a medium for depiciting truth. For the artist, reality in photography is illusory and constantly in flux. Viewers must try to make sense of the natural, scientic world through a manipulated, and possibly false, image.

A fascination with perceptions of truth also permeates the photographs of Thai artist Dow Wasiksiri and Vietnamese artist Richard Streitmatter-Tran. While Streitmatter-Tran makes no attempt to hide the artifice of his composite images, Wasiksiri’s saturated photos capture a side of Thai culture that he feels foreigners are not exposed to when viewing the “styled and staged” images of Thailand. According to the artist’s statement on his website:

“Visitors are presented with contrived, idealized images of Thainess by Thais ourselves … countless published views of Thailand are staged and styled. The contrivance and the reality rarely match, leading to startling juxtapositions”.

In presenting what he calls the “unexpected moments”, Dow aims to show unabashed ‘Thainess’ with humor and unself-consciousness.

Indonesian photographer Angki Purbandono makes use of what he calls a “freestyle” approach which allows him to employ methods ranging from collage to the scannography technique used in “Avocado Horse” (2010). Even so, Purbandono doesn’t separate himself from other photographers too much.

“Just like other people working with photography, I play with objects, considering light as important and employing a dark room to print my work.”

Angki Purbandono, Avocado Horse, 2010, Scannography, 100 x 100 cm

Angki Purbandono, 'Avocado Horse', 2010, scannography, 100 x 100 cm.

Korean artists well represented in “Emerging Wave”

Although most of the eleven countries are represented by two artists, organisers made sure to give Korean artists plenty of additional exposure. Bright candied flora populate the work of Koo Seong Youn while Hyun Mi Yoo seems to suspend falling objects in time with skillful compositions. The warped perspectives of Zu Do YangWawi Navarroza’s impersonation of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and “real vs. unreal” themes explored by artist Lee Yeleen add to the diversity of subject matter and style. Given that they were chosen for their talent and thoughtful innovation, it comes as no surprise that “Emerging Wave” participants turn the idea of photography on its head. With their photos they call on viewers to question the factual nature not just of the images they view but also the experiences which they have come to accept as normal and routine.

Koo Seong Youn Ht01 (+ Ht02), C-Prints, 2009, 120 x 150 cm

Koo Seong Youn, 'Ht01 (+ Ht02), C-Prints, 2009, 120 x 150 cm.

Other artists included in the show are Koreans Choi Jung Won, Lee Won Chul, and Nanda; Laotians Manichanh Pansivongsay and Phonephet Sitthivong; Indonesian artist Arya Pandjalu; Filipina artist Bea Camacho; Malaysian artists Liew Kung Yu and Tan Nan See; Burmese artist Thit Lwin Soe; Tanapol Kaewpring; Vietnamese artist Le Kinh Tai; and Cambodians Sok Sophal and Tralong Borin.

The exhibition has moved from the Hangaram Art Museum to the GoEun Museum of Photography in Busan and will close on 8 August.

EH/KN

Related Topics: Southeast Asian, photography, museum shows

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Posted in Asian, Connecting Asia to itself, Emerging artists, Indonesian, Korea, Korean, Laoation, Malaysian, Museum shows, Museums, Myanmar/Burmese, Photography, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Thai, Vietnamese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nindityo Adipurnomo talks with Art Radar on “+Road” collaboration with Myanmar artists, “gambling spirit” of Indonesian collectors

Posted by artradar on July 21, 2010


ART PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEW INDONESIAN ART EVENTS

In an Art Radar Asia exclusive interview with Cemeti founder Nindityo Adipurnomo, we hear the fascinating story of their latest venture working collaboratively with artists from Myanmar.  Read on to learn how cultural conflicts and artistic disappointments were eventually resolved.

New Zero Art Space in Myanmar and Cemeti Art House in Indonesia joined hands in June this year to present the collaborative project and exhibition “+Road|5 Myanmar Artists + 5 Jogja Artists in Yogyakarta.

Within a tight schedule of two weeks, five Burmese artists and five Indonesian artists interacted and produced performances, videos and installations.

These creations acted as a language through which the two distinctive cultures could communicate their differences, resolve conflicts and move closer to mutual understanding.

The five participating Myanmar artists included Aye Ko, (Executive Director of New Zero Art Space), May Moe Thu, Htoo Aung Kyaw, Nwe (Thin Lei Nwe) and Zoncy (Zon Sapal Phyu). The five Indonesian artists were Doger Panorsa, Ikhsan Syahirul Alim (Ican), Restu Ratnaningtyas, Ristyanto Cahyo Wibowo and Wibowo Adi Utama.

To understand more about how the collaborative project came into being, how the event was viewed by the local art community, and to gain some insight into the Indonesian art scene, Art Radar Asia spoke with Nindityo Adipurnomo, one of the executive directors of Cemeti Art House.

+Road| 5 Myanmar Artists + 5 Jogja Artists, a collaborative exhibition currently being held at Indonesian art gallery, Cemeti Art House.

From a commercial art promotion to a cross-cultural art exchange project

Nindityo Adipurnomo explained that the idea of collaboration between the two art spaces was initiated by Aye Ko, Myanmar artist and director of New Zero Art Space and Community New Zero Art Space. Ko thought that, by hosting a project of this kind, New Zero Art Space might land an exchange grant from the Asian Cultural Council in New York. With this in mind, Ko proposed the idea to Mella Jaarsma and Nindityo Adipurnomo, co-owners/coordinators of the renowned Indonesian gallery Cemeti Art House and winners of the 2006 John D. Rockefeller 3rd Awards, who expressed a keen interest.

Art censored in Burma

The couple saw “+Road” as an excellent opportunity to develop networks within regions such as Myanmar. They had learnt much from New Zero Art Space and they had been seeking opportunities to cooperate with them since attending the New Zero Art Space organised 2007 ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange Program, an event open only to members of the space. Of the programme, Adipurnomo recalled how each of the artists, gallery owners and art activists who participated had to bring along a single painting of a limited size with no political message. The night before the event, the Burmese police came and censored the art works on display, and removed the works of four Burmese artists. Despite this horrific episode, the programme was fruitful; each of the art activists present conducted informative talks.

In addition, “+Road”‘s aims were in line with the project-based platform Cemeti Art House has been working under since the beginning of 2010. This new platform focuses on an alternative approach to art and society in Indonesia. They have a successful model to follow; Landing Soon (2006-2009) was a three year exchange program in which one Dutch artist and one Indonesian artist resided in Yogyakarta and received assistance, guidance, and support from the studio manager through weekly progress reports.

“The reason [for launching the new platform] was because we were fed up with all the exhibition models, art fairs, auctions in Indonesia; [these events] never pay attention to invest in a kind of  healthy regeneration of the art scene. No, I’m one hundred percent sure that they do not realise this. The Indonesian commercial art scene has been investing in promotion only.” Nindityo Adipurnom

Conflicting goals of Burmese and Indonesians

However, it turned out Aye Ko wasn’t thinking about the kind of collaborative exhibition Adipurnomo had in mind. Basically, he just wanted to use Cemeti’s exhibition space for a group exhibition of five Myanmar artists and five Indonesian artists, where published catalogues could distributed. His commercial approach to the collaboration, which did not aim to provide any platform for meaningful interactions among artists, was certainly not what Cemeti Art House wanted.

“We did not want to only organise a promotional exhibition that has no interesting curatorial subject, not being involved in how artists go through their process before presenting their works in exhibition. And so we, in the end, asked [the artists] to just come to Yogyakarta; not bring any paintings with them. Instead, each of [the artists] should be well prepared with an individual artwork presentation in Power Point to see what we can do together.” Nindityo Adipurnomo

Jaarsma and Adipurnomo tried carefully to intervene and transform the  cooperation into a “mutual exchange project” instead: a program involving short events such as artists’ talks, discussions, workshops and master classes, allowing both groups of artists to understand each other better and create possibilities for a deeper collaboration, with an exhibition as the end goal. And in Jaarsma and Adipurnomo’s eyes, it was a success. “+Road” became a truly collaborative project for the ten artists involved, where they could engage themselves in intensive cultural exchanges and meaningful interactions.

Mix of talents strongly affects resulting artwork

The choice of the five Burmese artists and the five Indonesian artists was made separately by New Zero Art Space and Cemeti Art House respectively. Adipurnomo launched an open application, attracting nearly seventy artists, and selected five from this group. He admits to being disappointed with the choice made by New Zero Art Space. Among the five Burmese artists, only two were professional artists, while the rest of them were new members of New Zero Art Space and were very amateur beginners. In contrast, the Yogyakarta artists selected by Cemeti Art House had a lot professional experience.

Disappointment at Cemeti

“[The Burmese artists] are bad painters: they cannot draw, have no sense of colour and have, in fact, a very superficial sense of  exploring materials… While our local Yogyakarta artists you can see, … that they were very well trained academically, strong and skillfull in model drawings, sketches, colours, well experienced in treating materials with good sense.” Nindityo Adipurnomo

Burmese artists favour performance art, political art

Although the Burmese artists were generally inexperienced painters, their strength lay in performance art, an artistic skill which the Yogyakarta artists were either still developing or not interested in exploring.

“My very personal observation was that the artists from Yangoon were very much into performance art. They are very direct, expressive and always fulled of political intentions in their performance. They really use their body as the most direct tool and medium…. It often becomes a physical movement that is very close to a dance performance. One of our local artists participating in this project was [hesitant] to join the workshop on performance!” Nindityo Adipurnomo

This mix of opposing artistic strengths, differences which became very apparent during the workshops, influenced what was produced for the exhibition finale. “+Road” showcased a lot of video works and photographs, and a smaller number of installation and performance pieces, with no paintings at all.

Zon Sapal Phyu's 'Revolution of Own Space' (mixed media).

Aye Ko's 'No Money, Hungry, Hard Eating' (photography, video).

Wibowo Adi Utama's 'Art-NARCHY' (video).

Ikhsan Syahirul Alim's 'Commando Dance' (video, karaoke).

More opportunities open up future collaboration

Overall, Cemeti Art House viewed the collaboration as a successful pilot project, achieving its aim of engaging artists from two cultures in interactions that led to a gradual mutual understanding.

“[The] major understanding [the artists] did have was cultural dialogues. This is something that I find you can not just improvise in an Internet facilitation. You really need to [be] facing each other. Building up your assumptions, making a lot of missunderstandings and opening up conflicts, so that in the end you will understand each other better. We did ask every Indonesian artist to be a partner everyday by sitting on the same motorcycle – one motorcycle for two artists – during the two week intensive dialogue…. The time was just too short for so many reasons. But now we know better how to handle and open up more networks with young artists, who are really willing to continue in a deeper context.” Nindityo Adipurnomo

Working towards a healthy regeneration of the Indonesian contemporary art scene

Adipurnomo considers Cemeti Art House to be ground-breaking in promoting a healthy regeneration of the Indonesian contemporary art scene, which has grown largely commercially up to this point. From “rumours and a very quick-glimpse analyzation and observation”, he suggests that banks have been gaining control of the Indonesian art market.

Banking money makes a mark in the Indonesian art market

“In the beginning, [art] was dominated by rich people around the tobacco industry. Of course, Dr. Oei Hong Djien was the respected ‘pioneer’ of the Indonesian collectors, among many others who were more nationally known; Dr. Oei Hong Djien is going international quickly. He was also very generous in educating and influencing many other rich Chinese people in the tobacco industry to invest their capital in art. Starting from that mile stone, Indonesian art dealers and collectors [were] growing fast. Most of [these collectors] were hunting names instead of, you know, a ‘quality’. They created many kinds of tricks in order to get as many ‘big names’ as possible, which they could easily call ‘masterpiece’ makers. Auctions and art fairs were becoming a medium for them to gamble in so many tricky ways. This rapid growth of gambling spirit stimulated many other rich people, out of this tobacco industry, to borrow money from banks to join this gambling. That is the way banks are now getting involved. A lot of bankers started to invest their capital in the arts.” Nindityo Adipurnomo

New Jogyakarta Art Fair attracts outside collectors

With the opening of the Jogyakarta Art Fair recently, art dealers and bankers, many of whom had never visited the region before, flocked to Cemeti Art House to see what was happening. This is, perhaps, further evidence that the Indonesian arts scene is commercialising.

“Cemeti Art House is considered to be ground-breaking in promoting a healthy regeneration of the art scene. We have only been ‘fighting’ for that faith for so long. Of course, we are not the only ones. There are many others, such us Ruang Rupa in Jakarta, and the new comers like JARF (Jatiwangi Artists in Residence Festival), Forum Lenteng, and many other smaller scale [organisations] who come up and disappear and come up with different formulas [only] to dissappear again.” Nindityo Adipurnomo

CBKM/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Myanmar artists, Indonesian artists, art spaces, collaborative art

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist Nationality, Artist-run, Business of art, Collaborative, Collectors, Events, Gallery shows, Indonesia, Indonesian, Interviews, Multi category, Myanmar/Burmese, Nindityo Adipurnomo, Performance, Promoting art, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Unapologetically political Burmese artist Chaw Ei Thein discusses her country and her art: Asia Art Archive interview

Posted by artradar on June 29, 2010


MYANMAR ART BURMESE ART ASIA ART ARCHIVE ARTIST INTERVIEW

After growing up under Myanmar‘s military junta, Burmese artist Chaw Ei Thein‘s works is unapologetically political. In a recent interview with Asia Art Archive the artist speaks about the connection between her art and the politics in Myanmar as well as her hopes for the future of Burmese art.

Although she received several art awards as a child, Thein did not pursue art as a career until after graduating university with a law degree in 1994.  Thein became interested in performace art in the late 1990’s and began to create her own works with encouragement from more experienced performance artists.

Artists Chaw Ei Thein and Htein Lin at Lin's London exhibition

Artists Chaw Ei Thein and Htein Lin at Lin's London exhibition.

In 2004, Thein took part in the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) which she credits as opening the door for her involvement in the performance art community. During the interview with Asia Art Archive she does not hesitate to humbly thank her mentors for such opportunities.

“I did my very first street performance in Tokyo – and I still thank Seiji Shimoda and Aye Ko for giving me this great opportunity… Seiji Shimoda and NIPAF have played an important role in engaging Asian and international artists, to work together and create more networks. This was how I got the chance to network and make contacts with many Asian and western artists”

From this point, her career as a performance artist took off. She participated in several other major art festivals such as Open in Beijing in 2007. In addition to performance, Thein maintained an interest in several other mediums ranging from painting to installation.

Regardless of the medium she chooses, the political nature of her work remains a constant. At times, Thein even feels limited by her drive to reflect on the current climate in her homeland.

Thein's performance piece at NARS Open Studios event, May 15, 2010

Thein's performance piece at NARS Open Studios event in May 2010.

“Whenever I try to create something, it just appears in my mind as relating to my country’s current situation – my friends who are still in prison, and the people in Burma… I cannot get away from this issue, even today. I don’t know how to change the subject to create something else. That is my own problem, and the conflict within me”

The politcally minded Thein also elaborates on her struggles with automatic self-censorship even when working outside of Myanmar. For those artists who grew up in Myanmar and now have the chance to work abroad, concern for friends and family back home affects the kind of art they create. Fear of retaliation against loved ones living in Myanmar leads Thein to think carefully about what kind of art she she displays in public in any location.

Chaw Ei Thein, MEs, Performance, 2003

Chaw Ei Thein in a 2003 performance piece.

” I am a Burmese artist living under a military junta, I am used to being limited with what I can and cannot create inside Burma… There is a problem now whenever I want to create something: I have controlled myself already, automatically. …These “fears” and “worries” control me even when I am creating art outside of Burma.”

Being faced with the task of connecting the creative and political aspects of her art, Thein has developed ways to show subtle but powerful connections between the two. Though the artist worries that some of these connections may be lost on Western audiences, the conditions in Mayanmar are on her mind daily and show up in her art just as often.

“How can I help do something for the people who cannot speak out about what is happening in my country? I cannot escape these thoughts – that is why all of my paintings and performances are mostly about this.”

It is clear that the artist also has a passion for art education, a field that she feels is underdeveloped in Myanmar, especially in rural areas. In addition to preparing for upcoming shows, including a collaborative show with Htein Lin in November, Thein’s current activities include readying her second children’s’ book on art.

When asked by Asia Art Archive what she would improve in Myanmar’s art scene Thein’s answers reflect her desire to bring art to the people.

“Most people think about having art activities in cities like Rangoon (Yangon). I am more interested in doing it in other regions and places. It could be anywhere…”

Chaw Ei Thein, HeShe I, Acrylic on Paper, 2007

Chaw Ei Thein, 'HeShe I', acrylic on paper, 2007.

Even with all of this, Thein doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is constantly moving from city to city, still unsure of where to settle down and seemingly not too anxious to make this decision. For her, art is not about formality or rules, it is simply about making the art that she wants to create.  Whether people applaud her or not, she continues to create powerful and moving pieces on her own terms.

Read the full article on Asia Art Archive

EH/KN

Related Topics: Southeast Asian artistsperformance art, political artactivist art

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Posted in Collage, Human Body, Installation, Myanmar/Burmese, Oil, Painting, Performance, Political, Prison, Public art, Sculpture, Social, Southeast Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Myanmar artists explore new media, produce courageous art

Posted by artradar on April 13, 2009


MYANMAR ART

Asian Art News reports that some Burmese artists are bravely stepping outside the restrictions of censors and the pressures of the tourist market to create a new kind of art. Three commercial Thai galleries are supporting them: Suvannabhumi Gallery and La Luna in Chang Mai and Thavibu Gallery in Bangkok.

Aye Ko

Aye Ko

“While Myanmar has a thriving art scene there is an overwhelming predominance of generic Asian subject matter. Rather sentimental and nostalgic the golden temple spires, monks …and busy market scenes…satisfy the narrow tourist demands as well as placating the military junta” writes Steven Pettifor.

However earlier this year Jorn Middleborg worked with Malaysian art historian Shireen Naziree to curate a different kind of show.

The exhibition was called Speaking Alone and incorporated live performances, videos and mixed media works by four important Myanmar artists: Aung Myint, Aye Ko, Phyu Mon and emerging young artist Nyein Chan Su.

Aung Myint

Aung Myint

Aung Myint is regarded by some to be the ‘father of modernism’ in Myanmar. Aung Myint, who lost his mother as an infant, is widely known in S E Asia  for his black and white simple line drawings of mother and child. Examples can be found in museums in Singapore, Malaysa and Japan.

Aye Ko has had some international exposure with a solo exhibition in New York in 2002 and more recently in Europe as part of Thermocline of Art, New Asian Waves 2007. He has produced digital prints of multiple figures daubed in black, white and red looking wild and untamed. See a clip of his video Transfixed: Silent Escape.

Phyu Mon, Hope

Phyu Mon, Hope

Phyu Mon is the only female artist in the show and works in paint, video, performance and poetry and her artwork is concerned with expressing hope and uses symbolism to express disagreement with the ruling party.

Nyein Chan Su has produced a new series People in which inkjet print portraits of fellow activist artists – agreeing to pose was a courageous act – are overlaid with red lettering to parody official stamps. See clip of Nyein Chan Su video: Goldfish.

Asian Art News has published a thorough review and full information about the art scene and artists as well as an interview with Shireen Naziree. It is well worth a read but is only available in print direct from the publisher or a library such as Asia Art Archive.

Nyein Chan Su, People

Nyein Chan Su, People

Here is a small selection of notable points:

Art schools

There are only a couple of major art school based in Mandalay and Yangon which focus on early modernist theory. This somewhat formal and rigid training has caused artists to become self-taught or take private lessons.

Performance art

During traditional religious Nat ceremonies there are performances where worshippers go into a trance so in this sense Myanmar has a long history of performance art says curator Shireen Naziree. This medium has become popular with artists in recent years perhaps because it is cheap and informal and mobile so can easily sidestep the attention of censors says Jorn Middleborg.

Constraints on art scene in Myanmar

Due to political isolation, artists lack exposure to new art trends and they have limited access to information and funding. The economic situation constrains their ability to buy materials and the lack of English prevents Myanmar artists taking up residencies abroad.

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