[gallery type="slideshow" ids="102460,102461,102462,102463,102464,102465,102466,102467,102468,102469,102470,102471,102472"] RANGOON — Living in a scenic hill town has many benefits, not least of all for an artist in search of inspiration. Apart from Pyin Oo Lwin’s cool weather and laid back vibe, the subject matter on offer is abundant, from traditional horse-drawn carts and colonial mansions to an ethnically diverse community that stems in part from the town’s legacy as an old British hill station in Mandalay Division. “The weather here is perfect for colors,” says Muu Muu, a Pyin Oo Lwin resident and artist known for his intricate and bold brush strokes in paintings of the town in which he has lived for several decades. “For an artist, the town is like a buffet created by nature. I’m a lucky man.” The mediums he uses are, like many other artists, ink and acrylic. But his distinctive and preferred choice of canvas, known locally as “Shan paper,” sets him apart from others. “It’s something people have ignored. It’s traditional. Plus, it’s cheap,” he says of the material, which is made from mulberry pulp. Though he is known for depictions of its bustling town center and buildings around Pyin Oo Lwin, which used to be the seat of government for British Burma in the summer months of the colonial era, the 60-year-old artist says his artistic senses are not limited to those subjects alone. “Probably I have been limited by the medium I use, but not by the subjects around me,” he posits. Still, anyone familiar with his body of work would agree that there’s no denying Muu Muu’s particular affinity for horses, moons and women. “It’s difficult to explain my obsession with them. For horses, they were my childhood favorite. When I stare at a blank canvas to be painted, they appear in my mind most of the time,” he explains. Originally hailing from Winbo village in Sagaing Division, Muu Muu says he was fortunate to have parents who supported his interest in painting as a child. In 1976, he joined the government’s Fine Arts School in Mandalay. At the same time, he studied contemporary art under the guidance of U Khin Maung (Bank), a Burmese artist who pushed for the development of a modern movement in painting in Burma, which began in the early 1960s. With nearly 40 years as an artist under his belt, Muu Muu has held five solo shows in Burma and has had his work displayed in 10 international exhibitions in countries like the United States, France, Singapore and Malaysia. His sixth solo show is due to open next week. After all these years, what does he think of his trade? “Art is magic,” he says. “It captures your attention with lines and tones. When you add your emotion to them, it can enchant you.” “Sketch & Think,” the sixth solo exhibition by Muu Muu, will be on public display at the Think Art Gallery in Rangoon from Dec. 13-16.
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