Enlightenment on Canvas

A painting by Moat Thone at the Lokanat Gallery of Art in Rangoon. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

A painting by Moat Thone at the Lokanat Gallery of Art in Rangoon. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The last time that contemporary Burmese artist Moat Thone had a solo show was three years ago.

Not only famous for a body of work appearing as book cover illustrations and in magazines, the 58-year-old is also well-known for his watercolor sketch paintings. Hailing from the upcountry town of Pakokku, Moat Thone says he struggled for two years to create the 12 watercolor paintings that comprise his new exhibition at Rangoon’s Lokanat Gallery of Art this month.

The theme of his ninth solo show is “The Buddha and Mara, the Archangel of Evil.” As the title suggests, viewers are treated to watercolor sketches of not only the enlightened one, but also paintings depicting the Buddha’s life story. The exhibition places an emphasis on scenes in which Mara tempted the Buddha-to-be Siddhartha, challenging his right to become the founder of the faith.

Moat Thone says his latest exhibition is inspired by a giant Buddha statue he encountered

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during a trip outside Rangoon. He also admits that the designs of some stone animal sculptures at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon helped to make the Buddha and Mara depictions livelier.

But Moat Thone insists his interest in the subjects is not too profoundly spiritual.

“I’m obsessed with lines,” he says. “I love to draw them. I just put subjects like Buddha and other related figures to make those lines meaningful.”

The exhibition runs Aug. 4-9, from 9 am to 5 pm.

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