Young Myanmar Artists Explore a Range of Themes in Group Show

By Lwin Mar Htun 16 August 2019

An ongoing exhibition by six young male artists features a variety of creations with different themes and subjects, including a work honoring the amateur artists behind the now-extinct art form of action-hero posters; a mixed-media sculpture; a story told in the comic medium; urban art and more.

The exhibition “08:06:06” comprises 28 pieces by artists Ang Banang, Bart Was Not Here, Myint Soe Oo, Thoe Htein, Thu Myat and Wunna Aung.

A visitor looks at ‘Friday’, an artwork in the comic medium by Bart Was Not Here. / Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

“Since 2017, we’ve put on exhibitions together. The first event included a total of eight artists, and this decreased to six for the next two years. That’s why we named the exhibition ‘08:06:06,’” said Ko Thu Myat, an artist who is showing two works of urban art at the exhibition.

He added, “I came from the graffiti, street art industry, so urban art is relatable to [the other works]. Currently, I’m in the mood to create this kind of art. It’s already booming in European countries.”

He uses many different colors in both paintings; in one he uses patterns of different dimensions, too. The artwork is called “I do graffiti, ban me please”; it’s a mixed spray paint and acrylic on canvas. Both artworks are interesting.

Artist Wunna Aung recalls the lost genre of action-hero posters—which formed a big part of his childhood—and honors the amateur artists that created them in his work ‘Three Pieces to Embrace the First Light’. / Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

His artist description says, “These paintings have no meaning.”

“Visitors always ask what is the meaning of this painting? Or what is your message? I don’t know why but they always ask at every exhibition. If a painting doesn’t have any meaning, that doesn’t mean the artist can’t exhibit it. That’s why I created what I want to make and exhibited it. That’s all,” he said.

The mixed-media sculpture is in the shape of a woman who is sitting and holding a fish bowl. The whole upper body of the sculpture is covered with pieces of newspaper articles about crimes by and against women; some crimes were committed by women and in some of the news stories women were the victims.

‘I do graffiti, ban me please’ by artist Thu Myat / Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

“A fish tank is covered with local female stars, commercials and newspaper advertisements. It’s her dream, but most of the women are struggling with bullying, segregation, and prejudice as they live their lives,” said artist Ang Banang.

He added, “We have been craving and yearning for a lie inside a flimsy glass chamber made out of fame, money, love, and passion. And still yearning and still yearning.”

Old buses of the kind no longer in public use are adorned in colorful flowers in paintings by artist Thoe Htein. / Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

Artist Wunna Aung is showing a total of three pieces that attempt to recall and reflect the images of famous action heroes created by long-forgotten amateur artists, which he loved throughout his childhood.

“Maybe you can call this attempt a tribute to the artistic souls of laymen,” said Ko Wunna Aung.

He added, “Those heroic images were used to attract people during local carnivals and street shows. Those extinct images were done by unknown hobbyists who tried to express their talent by creating attractive heroic images and ad lines. It was so popular when I was young but now they are long gone.”

Acrylic on canvas artworks by Myint Soe Oo / Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

Each artist has their own theme and different type of storytelling. Another interesting piece by artist Thoe Htein depicts old buses. The meanings of the works are fascinating but I won’t go into those here. Ask the artists directly when you visit the exhibition.

The exhibition opened Friday and will run until Aug. 18 at the Moon Art Gallery located in the middle block of 35th Street. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.