Art Show Delves Into the Surreal

By Wei Yan Aung 20 July 2018

YANGON — For those tired of landscapes and portraits, an ongoing exhibition in Yangon is showcasing something a little more uncanny.

“Supernatural” features the creative works of five surrealists exploring other aspects of human life.

Surrealism is not new to Myanmar, but few surrealists have emerged here since the movement began abroad in the 1920s.

One of the reasons is the decades of draconian censorship on art and the press imposed by the previous military junta, said the show’s curator, Lu Maw Han, a surrealist himself.

“Young surrealists have come together for this exhibition, and we’ve also invited veteran surrealist San Minn,” he said. “So this event is a blend of youth and experience.”

One of San Minn’s paintings depicts a traffic policeman. He has used bright colors, as usual. But in place of his head are traffic lights.


“I’ve long wanted to do something about traffic lights,” said San Minn, to comment on Yangon’s notorious traffic congestion. “Through this painting, I want to send the message that men and machines are somehow the same in principle.”

Ye Minn’s paintings feature people with mechanical heads wandering aimlessly.

“People struggle incessantly their whole lives but are not aware of the fact that they are governed by their ignorance,” he said.

Lu Maw Han imagined the connections between humans and angels while creating his paintings depicting suicide.

Min Zaw Aung has painted a large chair with people climbing onto it. “The chair is the power that people crave,” he said.

Though the ideas behind the paintings are not new, the artists use their particular techniques to give them their own twist.

More than 20 paintings will be on display at the exhibition, which will run through Monday at the 43 Art Gallery on 43rd Street in Yangon. The works range from $500 to $1,000.

“This new generation of artists has a fervent belief in surrealism. Time will tell if they have only a fleeting interest or a lifelong interest in surrealism,” said San Minn.

Translated from Burmese by Thek Ko Ko.