Only a few of Myanmar’s artists are honored with statues; and of these statues, only a few are regularly visited by people wishing to pay tribute to the artist’s memory.
U Thu Kha is one of these select few. A decade after his death, his statue still draws many people paying their respects.
He started working at the State School of Fine Arts in 1964 and mentored hundreds of artists before his death in 2007.
“Sayagyi [U Thu Kha] was very kind to his students and colleagues. He mainly taught us about anatomy. His lectures were very clear and easy to understand. He explained the fundamentals very well,” said Zaw Win Pe, an artist known for his colorful landscape paintings.
Born in 1918, U Thu Kha devoted his entire life to teaching art. After he passed away, former students commissioned a statue and established a foundation bearing his name, which provides assistance to artists.
“He was a very caring person. He not only took care of the health of his students but also acted as guardian for them when they got married. I remember he once made a bed out of fence posts for me while I was studying under him,” said artist Min Wai Aung.
A memorial art exhibition, the fifth in a series, is being held until Saturday at New Treasure Art Gallery on Thanlwin Street in Bahan Township.
The exhibition showcases more than 300 paintings by U Thu Kha, his contemporaries and his students. The works are for sale, priced at between $200 and $15,000. A percentage of the proceeds will go to the U Thu Kha foundation.