Modernist Painter Juxtaposes Sublime With the Scary

By Wei Yan Aung 2 October 2018

YANGON — For his latest solo exhibition, painter Ne Tun, who is known for combining traditional Myanmar art with modernist aesthetics, has brought together an unlikely pair of subjects — love and horror.

“I am showcasing what I have always wanted to create in this exhibition. People like the paintings I created before. Whether my latest works will be successful is completely out of my control,” he said.

While Ne Tun was creating the paintings for the exhibit, his recalled, his family asked him, “Are you sure about showcasing these paintings?” He said his answer was a resounding “Yes.”

The result, “Inner Mind,” showing at Yangon’s Lokanat Gallery through Sunday, is a collection of horrifyingly surrealist paintings and minimalist nudes in stark contrast to depictions of parental love.

Paintings entitled “Family,” “Affection,” “Womb” and “Cultivation” and the like hang next to others depicting horrifying figures rendered in bright, bold colors.

“Those paintings perfectly match the title of the exhibition. I grasped the images that popped into my mind, and they became horrifying figures. To the eyes of most Myanmar people, [the paintings] do not have pleasant colors or subjects. I am satisfied and glad that I could do what I wanted to do,” said Ne Tun.

“An artist has to search and take risks. And Ne Tun has searched his unique style. He has Myanmar sensibilities. If he can combine them with a modernist style, the painting will be good. He is passionate about his work, and if he searches he will find,” said veteran modernist artist Pe Nyunt Wai, who visited the exhibition.

The exhibition showcases more than 40 works in watercolor and acrylic priced from $200 to $600.

Ne Tun is a 1976 graduate of the Yangon School of Fine Arts and has participated in more than 100 exhibitions.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.