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Posts Tagged ‘government censorship’

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 »

Book: Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Things You Should Know

Posted by artradar on October 23, 2008


BOOK OVERVIEW CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART

Chinese Contemporary Art: 7 Things You Should Know – Melissa Chiu

In China today, contemporary art is readily available in public museums and private galleries in burgeoning gallery districts, and in three new art fairs in Beijing and Shanghai. Abroad, Chinese artists are the subject of museum retrospective exhibitions and grace the covers of international art magazines.

Chinese contemporary art has come of age; yet there are few reference books for the reader who wants a quick but precise history of the field. This book aims to fill that gap. Short and to the point, it is arranged into seven sections outlining the rudiments of Chinese contemporary art: what you need to know about the artists, the art market, and what can legitimately be called a new art movement, perhaps the first great art movement of the 21st century.

Sections:

  • Contemporary art in China began decades ago
  • Chinese contemporary art is more diverse than you might think
  • Museums and galleries have promoted Chinese contemporary art since the 1990s
  • Government censorship has been an influence on Chinese artists, and sometimes still is
  • The Chinese artists’ diaspora is returning to China
  • Contemporary art museums in China are on the rise
  • The world is collecting Chinese contemporary art

 Artists:

Weiwei AI(艾未未), Guoqiang CAI(蔡國強), Xin CANG(蒼鑫), Fei CAO(曹斐 b.1978), Danqing CHEN(陳丹青 b.1953), Zhen CHEN(陳箴), Xiuwen CUI(崔岫聞 b.1970), Lijun FANG(方力鈞), Mengbo FENG(馮夢波), Jianyi GENG(耿建翌), Dexin GU(顧德新), Wenda GU(谷文達), Bo HAI(海波), Duoling HE(何多苓 b.1948), Hao HONG(洪浩), Lei HONG(洪磊), Rui HUANG(黃銳), Yan HUANG(黃岩 b.1966), Yongping HUANG(黃永砅), Shan LI(李山 b.1942), Shuang LI(李爽), Tianmiao LIN(林天苗), Yilin LIN(林一林 b.1964), Wei LIU(劉煒 b.1965), Xiaodong LIU(劉小東), Desheng MA(馬德升), Liuming MA(馬六明), Zhilong QI(祁志龍 b.1962), Zhijie QIU(邱志傑 b.1969), Rong RONG(榮榮), Dong SONG(宋冬), Jianguo SUI(隨建國), Du WANG(王度), Gongxin WANG(王功新), Guangyi WANG(王廣義), Jianwei WANG(汪建偉), Jin WANG(王晉 b.1962), Jinsong WANG(王勁松), Keping WANG(王克平 b.1949), Qingsong WANG(王慶松), Shanzhuan WU(吳山專), Lu XIAO(肖魯 b.1962), Danwen XING(邢丹文), Bing XU(徐冰), Lei YAN(顏磊), Peiming YAN(嚴培明), Fudong YANG(楊福東 b.1971), Jiechang YANG(楊詰蒼 b.1956), Shaobin YANG(楊少斌), Xiuzhen YIN(尹秀珍 b.1963), Minjun YUE(岳敏君 b.1962), Fanzhi ZENG(曾梵志), Wang ZHAN(展望), Dali ZHANG(張大力), Huan ZHANG(張洹), Peili ZHANG(張培力), Xiaogang ZHANG(張曉剛 b.1958), Chunya ZHOU(周春芽), Ming ZHU(朱冥 b.1972)

Buy this book on Amazon.

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