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Myanmar: Faces and Figures

Exhibition details

28 September, 2023
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:
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Karin Weber Gallery is pleased to announce ‘Myanmar: Faces and Figures’, a three-artist show focusing on some of the most influential voices in the Myanmar contemporary arts scene. As the country continues to face complex socio-political challenges arising from the military coup in February 2021, artists show remarkable resilience and commitment to their practice.

‘Faces and Figures’ spotlights three established artists who have all been instrumental in shaping the narrative of Myanmar contemporary art into what it is today. From the 1960s onwards, Aung Myint, Htein Lin and Min Wae Aung have all pioneered highly individualistic forms of self-expression through their art, building Myanmar’s artistic reputation on the international stage, and inspiring the next generation of young talents along the way. Important local art world leaders, this showcase of their work focuses on the faces and figures that are consistent features in their art, reflections of their signature styles.

One of the most recognisable subjects in Aung Myint’s practice is the ‘Mother and Child’ figure. Executed in a single brush stroke, referencing the swirls and arches of Burmese script, this simple figure is as much the artist’s reckoning with childhood trauma of losing his mother at a young age, as an embracing of his Burmese heritage.

Htein Lin makes local folklore the focus of his striking ‘Bedtime Stories’ (2017) series. Originally part of an installation involving upcycled beds, the four pieces focus on women celebrated for their devotion and transformational powers – some even deified into ‘Nats’, domestic spirits still worshipped by local communities today. These large scale works also demonstrate Htein Lin’s renowned monoprint technique; finger drawings in paint on flat surfaces from which a single, often textile, print is lifted.

Min Wae Aung has remained consistent in his portrayal of Buddhist subjects, mostly monks and novices, for several decades now. His internationally renowned ‘Towards Monastery’ series echoes the gentle shapes and curves of monastic processions, executed in vibrant reds, pinks and yellows against plain, often golden backgrounds. Gentler, yet equally iconic watercolour works engage with similar themes in a softer palette.

As contemporary art in Myanmar strives for progress in the face of uncertainty and adversity on the ground, Aung Myint, Htein Lin and Min Wae Aung continue to teach, lead and inspire the younger artists following in their footsteps. We are excited to celebrate these local and international trailblazers, and to showcase the ‘Faces and Figures’ that are integral to their work.

About the Artists:

Aung Myint (b.1946, Myanmar), a self-taught artist and Psychology graduate, pioneered contemporary, often experimental art in Myanmar from the mid-1960s. Best known for his paintings, which blend figurative elements with a strong focus on Abstract Expressionism, Aung Myint’s practice also encompasses performance and installation, always capturing moments of personal reflection and social commentary. His Inya Art Gallery, co-founded in 1989, remains family-run and active in Yangon even today.

One of the best-known Myanmar artists on the international stage, Aung Myint was one of the first Burmese artists to participate in the ASEAN art awards in 1998 and won the ‘Jurors Choice’ award for some of his signature single stroke ‘Mother & Child’ paintings in 2002. He was also a key participant in the seminal exhibition ‘No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia’ (2013) at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2014). Key institutional collections include the Singapore Art Museum, the National Art Gallery of Malaysia, and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan.

Htein Lin (b. 1966, Ingapu, Myanmar) originally studied law before pursuing his passion for visual and performance arts. Detained several times by successive military regimes, he draws inspiration both from those experiences, and from Myanmar’s rich culture, to use many different art forms to engage with audiences on the challenges facing Myanmar today. Htein Lin is most widely recognised for an extensive series of paintings created during his first prison sentence 1998-2004, using a range of utility objects to paint. and print on white cotton longyi cloth. Notable public performances include Mobile Market/ Mobile Gallery (2005) and his ongoing A Show of Hands series (2013-). Artistically, Htein Lin is strongly inspired by Buddhist philosophy and Burmese traditions; in his painting also by European modernists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. He is a co-founder of the recently established Association of Myanmar Contemporary Art (AMCA).

Htein Lin’s works are in key institutional and private collections around the world, most notably the M+Museum, Hong Kong, the International Red Cross Museum, Geneva, Switzerland, Singapore Art Museum; Five Continents Museum, Munich, Germany and the US Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar.

Min Wae Aung (b. 1960, Danyubu, Myanmar) studied at the State School of Fine Art in Yangon in the late 1970s, and in 1989 established the New Treasure Art Gallery, also in Yangon, still one of Myanmar’s most established art galleries today. His art draws strong inspiration from Burmese heritage and religion, with his timeless portrayal of Buddhist monks and nuns performing their simple daily rituals gaining him international recognition, including an ASEAN art award in 1998. Min Wae Aung’s iconic paintings are held by the British Museum, London, Singapore Art Museum, Myanmar National Museum, the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan, alongside worldwide private and institutional collections such as Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong.


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