Culture

Myanmar Artist Puts COVID-19 on the Canvas

By Wei Yan Aung 5 June 2020

YANGON—Yangon’s silence during COVID-19 has aroused renowned artist MPP Ye Myint’s urge to paint. The artist, who lives in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bagan, was still wandering around Yangon just two weeks before the first cases of coronavirus were reported in the city.

Paintings to be displayed at MPP Ye Myint’s “COVID-19” art exhibition. / Photos supplied

When people were advised to stay at home, he started to draw the scene of the Sule Pagoda in deserted downtown Yangon. In his 5-by-6 foot painting, there are no pedestrians on the Sule overpass and no cars on the streets—the Sule traffic lights are lifeless, though the coronavirus is roaming the streets.

Paintings to be displayed at MPP Ye Myint’s “COVID-19” art exhibition. / Photos supplied

“Everyone in Myanmar knows Sule. It is also known by the world. So, it represents Myanmar,” the artist said.

As he was drawing the scenes of Sule, the coronavirus spread across many parts of Myanmar through from patients who had returned from Europe and elsewhere in Asia.

Paintings to be displayed at MPP Ye Myint’s “COVID-19” art exhibition. / Photos supplied

MPP Ye Myint then drew pictures of the coronavirus looming over Mandalay’s Zaycho Market, its watchtower, Mandalay Hill and two lion statues at the foot of the hill in Mandalay.

The artist expects to hold an oil paint art exhibition entitled “COVID-19” in Yangon. The exhibition will also feature paintings about China. At least 13 paintings will be on display at the exhibition and proceeds will be donated to places that serve those in need due to the pandemic.

Paintings to be displayed at MPP Ye Myint’s “COVID-19” art exhibition. / Photos supplied

The seasoned modernist painter rose to fame with his “Cancer” and “Van Gogh visits Bagan” series and is known for works depicting the negative political and social dimensions of Myanmar. His paintings have been collected by museums in Singapore and Japan.

In his famed “Cancer” series, black clouds, which he used to symbolize cancer, cast dark shadows over the deteriorating political, economic, social, health and environmental situations of Myanmar.

Paintings to be displayed at MPP Ye Myint’s “COVID-19” art exhibition. / Photos supplied

Art lovers will be able to see how he portentously combines dark clouds with the coronavirus at his upcoming exhibition in August.

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