Father, Son and Granddaughter Art Exhibition

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 25 January 2017

RANGOON — U Thet Nyunt is a veteran painter who still can’t put his brush down even at the age of 90. His son, Min Ko Naing, 55, is a prominent student leader of Burma’s historic 88 Uprising that tried to topple the country’s dictatorship in 1988. Mwei The San, the painter’s granddaughter, is studying medicine at Rangoon’s Institute of Medicine 1. She is 20 years old.

But their age differences and diverse backgrounds no longer matter when they are bound by art. This can be seen beginning on Sunday, when New Treasure Art Gallery in Rangoon opens an art exhibition that will feature the works of the three generations of artists, in part to honor the veteran painter’s 90th birthday.

U Thet Nyunt shows off his granddaughter’s painting.

With one of Burma’s famous impressionists U Lun Gywe being four years junior to him, U Thet Nyunt’s show could mark him the oldest working artist in the country. More than 170 paintings out of nearly 200 put on display at the Father, Son and A Granddaughter Art Exhibition will attest that he is a prolific artist.

“I just want to inspire younger people. I want them to know that is no reason you can’t do something because you are old. I paint every day,” U Thet Nyunt said, explaining the reason behind the exhibition.

“My son and granddaughter also paint. I decided to get them onboard to have a family exhibition rather than a solo show,” he added.

One of U Thet Nyunt’s painting that will be shown in the exhibition.

Min Ko Naing said he has been longing to have a show with his dad. He will contribute 10 paintings, two of which he drew secretly when he was behind bars for his political activism.

“My niece, Mwei The San, also paints; she will be included as well. So, it becomes the works of three generations,” said the former student leader, who is also known for his poems, novellas and essays. He also did illustrations for the Burmese translation of “The Pizh’duks,” written by former Czech President Václav Havel about the absurdities of communism.

Min Ko Naing with one of his paintings.

The youngest artist of the trio, Mwei The San, said she is happy to see her paintings at the show for the first time while also scared that her work will be on display alongside paintings by U Thet Nyunt and Min Ko Naing, who both have established their names.

“My works are not that good. I feel embarrassed,” she said. In fact, the 20-year-old learned how to paint as a child when her family noticed her talent after she won a school drawing competition.

“My granddad said he wants to see my work along with his on exhibition before his death. So, I let them go,” she said, adding that she will have about 10 landscapes, portraits and still life paintings on display.

For U Thet Nyunt, the exhibition is a source of family pride and joy.

“I am really happy to see there is no shortage of artists in our family. They are like father like son as well as granddaughter.”