Exhibit Exploring Sexuality Aims for Ambiguity

By Lwin Mar Htun 26 June 2018

YANGON — A new exhibition in Yangon featuring the works of artists Richie Htet and Calum Minuti titled “I’m Not Trying to Seduce You” may leave visitors with the opposite impression.

The exhibition is about the sensuality and sexuality of Myanmar women and an exploration of the idea of the Myanmar femme fatale, said Richie Htet.

“Just as the title suggests, the work in the exhibition remains ambiguous when it comes to seduction,” he said.

An illustration by Richie Htet. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

The show opened on Saturday and will run until July 3 at the Myanmar Art gallery, located on Bogalay Zay Street. Opened hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The exhibition combines fashion with drawings, paintings and photography, setting it apart from other art exhibitions currently showing in Yangon.

A painting of model Valerie by Richie Htet.

“I think that is special and different about our exhibition. We think of fashion, art [paintings and drawings] and photography as one and the same,” said Richie Htet.

The exhibition showcases Richie Htet’s paintings on fashion and Calum Minuti’s nude illustrations. Both studied fashion illustration at the London College of Fashion.

A painting of model M Seng Lu by Richie Htet.

“We wanted to liberate the women in our work, free from the confines of social acceptability. To portray the women nude is to free them and give them the ownership of their own bodies and sexuality,” said Calum Minuti.

The two began by coming up with the theme and title for the exhibition and working around that. As they explained, the show’s title borrows a line from the American movie “The Graduate.”

Photographs by Zicky Le.

“We were also inspired by the fashion and idea of the modern girl during the ’30s and ’40s in Burma,” Richie Htet said, “a new liberated and empowered female with her sheer blouse, makeup and high heels.”

For the photos, the artists dressed their models in classic Myanmar attire because they thought it the best way to represent the sexual liberation of Myanmar women.

Nude drawings by Calum Minuti.

“As the idea of the show is to question the sensuality and the sexual liberation of the Burmese woman, what better way to represent them than in their traditional Burmese garb?” said Richie Htet.

The exhibition also showcases the fashion photography of Zicky Le, working off Richie Htut and Calum Minuti’s directions.

“Then we got a makeup artist, Kareng Ahla, and a few of our close friends, May Grace, M Seng Lu and Valerie, to model for us,” added Richie Htut.

Nude drawings by Calum Minuti.

Zicky Le said most of his photos were used as the basis for the paintings.

“It’s inspiring to see my photos being interpreted into paintings. It makes me want to create more photos, and we share similar tastes as well,” he said.

As artists, Richie Htet and Calum Minuti have an inherent desire and drive to portray beauty and progress. They want their work to be seen as something beautiful but also to promote forward-thinking feminist ideals.

“We do what we do because we love the creative process; we get great pleasure from producing aesthetically pleasing images,” Richie Htet said.

Richie Htet is a Myanmar illustrator and fashion image-maker based in Myanmar. His work places heavy emphasis on the human form and deals with erotic and sexual themes based on aestheticism.

Calum Minuti is a British visual artist and fashion image-maker currently based in Myanmar. He focuses on the human form and on human experiences, whether through the exploration of personal identity, gender politics or simple life drawings.

The work featured in the exhibition is on sale and ranges in price from $100 to $800.