The Irrawaddy
[gallery type="slideshow" ids="86362,86363,86364,86365,86366,86367,86368,86369,86370,86371,86372,86373,86374"] RANGOON — After regular visits to Bagan and Taung Pyone over nearly a decade, Rangoon artist Nyein Chan Su is showcasing a series of works inspired by nats, the spirits worshipped in central Burma alongside Buddhism. Named ‘Spirituality in High Spirits’, 14 of Nyein Chan Su’s artworks are now on display in Burma’s commercial capital, a series of acrylic and canvas renditions each turn on its head the traditional depiction of nats as foreboding and reproachful figures. “Whenever you talk about them or see their statues, all you see is their stern faces and the stories of their tragic deaths, but I put smiles on their faces,” said the acclaimed 42-year old artist, commonly known as NCS, who has been a participant in more than a dozen international art exhibitions since 2010. “I wonder whether, after the tragedy of their own lives, the nats may be happy to see some of the changes in our country.” The exhibition is also running alongside ‘Near Mandalay’, a documentary filmed by Nyein Chan Su about Taung Pyone, a stronghold of nat worship. “I want to highlight how the Nat worshipping plays an important role in people’s ways of life alongside Buddhism. How their belief in nats controls their daily life—in social interactions, in their health, and so on—in places where there’s no medical clinics and no schools,” he said. ‘Spirituality in High Spirits’ is on display at Studio Square, in Bahan Township’s Pearl Condo, until July 25.

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