Culture

The Naked Truth: Exhibition of Paintings, Photos Explores the Human Form

By Wei Yan Aung 19 October 2018

YANGON—Harn Lay is best known for his satirical cartoons about Myanmar’s former dictatorship. For decades, he used cartoons as a medium to defy the military regime.

But the works by Harn Lay showcased in his latest joint art exhibition tackle a theme seemingly free from politics, yet in its own way still taboo in Myanmar society—the naked human form.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

“Our works are all about aesthetic appreciation, and nothing to do with sex. Seeing a pig doesn’t make you hungry for pork, does it? [The paintings] are about human anatomy,” said the artist, a 1985 graduate of the Yangon State School of Fine Arts.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

Alongside Harn Lay’s nude paintings, photographs of nudes by Shan ethnic photographer Sai Kyaw Khaing are also on display in the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

“I create contrast and visual mass using my favorite colors—black and white,” Sai Kyaw Khaing said.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

Harn Lay, who is also ethnic Shan, creates nudes in multiple genres—some are rendered in a realist style, while others are more modernist.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

Showing one of his paintings with thick layers of paint, he said he is comfortable painting in that way, as he used to create film posters, which also make use of similarly thick layers of paint. Harn Lay is also a sculptor.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

The heavy contrast of light and shadow in Sai Kyaw Khaing’s photographs bring out the edges and curves of the models in a fascinating way.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

The exhibition, which runs through Tuesday, features over 20 paintings and photos, which are available at prices between USD200 and 500.

Some of the paintings by Harn Lay and photographs by Sai Kyaw Khaing currently on display at the “Figure” exhibition at the Moon Art Gallery on 35th Street in Kyauktada Township, Yangon.

Harn Lay has previously exhibited his work in Thailand. Sai Kyaw Khaing holds an advanced diploma in photography from an Australian university.

“Art was censored back in the dark era,” said illustrator Myo Myint, referring to the military regime. “I’m really glad that an exhibition devoted exclusively to works depicting nudes can be held. This is about artistic creation, not the arousal of sexual desire,” he said.

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