[gallery type="slideshow" ids="105300,105258,105263,105264,105265,105268,105269,105320,105321,105322,105323,105324,105325"] RANGOON — Lynn Wunna credits the guidance he received from one of Burma’s most renowned and influential artists, Bagyi Aung Soe, as setting him on his own unique artistic path. “Art is not for money,” he recalls Bagyi Aung Soe advising. “It is your obligation to create works of aesthetic appeal. Whether or not you can make money, that depends on fate.” The eldest of six siblings, Lynn Wunna was born in Rangoon’s Tamwe Township. His father was an English teacher and his mother a civil servant. He began learning the very basics of painting when he was young as well-known cartoonist Myay Zar taught art at his local kindergarten. When he was in fifth grade, he studied basic painting from the artist Lun Kywe and by the ninth grade, he was taking tips from Bagyi Aung Soe, who lived just four doors down from his home. Bagyi Aung Soe did not teach him painting techniques directly at first but instead showed him pictures in books and explained how they were drawn and asked him to imitate the style. He still remembers much of the late artist’s advice. “One day he said I had become half an artist,” Lynn Wunna said. “I asked him what I was supposed to do to be a fully-fledged artist and he told me to read a lot.” Bagyi Aung Soe also helped him undergo mind training exercises such as mediating and counting beads to obtain Satori—a state of mind helping a person to better understand their true nature. “Don’t be a second Aung Soe; be the first Lynn Wunna,” Bagyi Aung Soe once told him. Lynn Wunna was arrested on September 9, 1990, and spent three months in Insein Prison for his involvement in politics. He studied at the State Fine Arts School in Rangoon from 1991-94 but, just two months after graduation, he was arrested for a second time and spent another year in jail. “Artists love freedom. Throughout history, artists have always confronted rulers during dark eras in which freedom is prohibited,” Lynn Wunna said. “I took part in basic education school student unions after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising and was consequently imprisoned when I was in 10th grade.” After his release, he was no longer permitted to study at school and had to take exams off-campus. “I think politics concerns everyone living in the country. Unless and until people… enjoy complete human freedom and there is responsibility and accountability, politics will remain a crushing burden on us,” Lynn Wunna said, adding that he was optimistic about the country’s future. The Rangoon-born artist has so far held eight solo exhibitions since 1996 and participated in dozens of group shows and charity events. He describes the creation of his works as dependent on his mental state. “I focus on color rather than figures and draw out my feelings on canvas in a state of mind between consciousness and unconsciousness. If consciousness is stronger than unconsciousness, my painting is dominated by drawing techniques and if unconsciousness is stronger… the painting is dominated by abstract composition,” he said. “Sometimes images which hide in the deepest parts of the mind come out onto canvas without the knowledge of the creator.” When asked how he defines a successful artist, he pointed to Bagyi Aung Soe and Kin Maung Yin as examples. “They have attained the highest state. [By that] I mean a state in which an artist can free his mind and draw out his feelings freely without being burdened. This I think is the highest achievement for an artist,” he said. Aside from painting, Lynn Wunna is also involved in illustration. “To illustrate, you need to have a strong imagination, and for arts, you need to have strong feeling,” he said. Translated by Thet Ko Ko.
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