Burma’s Oldest Art Gallery Celebrates Anniversary

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 20 December 2013

RANGOON — For more than four decades, a yellow colonial-style building in downtown Rangoon has showcased the works of contemporary Burmese artists, earning a reputation as the country’s longest running art gallery. Now, the artists are taking a moment to look back.

At Lokanat Galleries’ anniversary event, which opened Thursday, 100 paintings by 21 member artists are open to the public. Among the selection are contemporary oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings by famous Burmese artists including Lun Gywe, Win Pe Myint, Moat Thone and Nay Myo Say.

“We had to struggle in the early days of the gallery,” says Pe Nyunt Way, another famous artist and a founding member of Lokanat. “We had to use money from our own pockets to run it, but over the past few years the country has opened and things seem to be alright.”

The artist is also displaying four of his own acrylic paintings, all combinations of realism and contemporary brushwork that compare Rangoon’s changing urban landscape over the decades, from 1962 to 1992 and the early 2000s.

“I just painted what I saw from my apartment window over the course of time,” he said, standing in front of the artwork. Each painting shows a panorama view of the skyline in downtown Rangoon, with the city’s landmark Shwedagon Pagoda featured in the center. As the paintings progress through the years, high-rise buildings gradually encroach upon the religious monument.

“I didn’t mean to record anything,” he said. “But my paintings turned out to be a reminder of what we have lost.”

The anniversary exhibition runs until Feb. 27, 2014.

Lokanat Galleries
No. 62, 1st Floor, Pansodan Street
Kyauktada Township, Rangoon