Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy
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Artist Toasts the Lady’s Birthday with ‘Mingalabar 72’

Kyaw Phyo Tha The Irrawaddy

YANGON — While supporters and followers of Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi celebrated their leader’s 72nd birthday on Monday with cakes and bouquets, the artist MPP Yei Myint marked the day with paints and brushes.

Instead of saying “Happy Birthday Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” he takes a more traditional approach for Myanmar, with “Mingalabar 72,” wishing “prosperity, blessing or anything auspicious, joyous” for the State Counselor on her birthday and onward.

He uses the greeting as the title of his 15th solo show from June 17-21 in Yangon’s Cloud 31 Art Gallery.

As the name of the show suggests, the 54 acrylic paintings open to the public are solely about the Lady—mostly close-up portraits of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, from her younger days to campaign trails to her time as the country’s State Counselor.

“I just honor her and the country she is serving. I juxtaposed the Myanmar traditional greeting word [mingalarbar] with someone we valued,” explained the 64-year old artist.

Some of the paintings not only depict Daw Aung San Suu Kyi but also excerpts from her speeches as well.

Apart from the canvas, the artist uses the National League for Democracy party’s flag—a white star and yellow fighting peacock on a red background—as a backdrop for the Lady’s portrait and her speech extracts.

The paintings are in two different sizes: two feet by three feet, and three feet by four feet, with prices ranging from 500,000-2,000,000 kyats.

Asked if he has a birthday wish for her beyond “mingalabar,” MPP Yei Myint said he wishes her good health to help her achieve the peace she so covets for her country, referring to the government’s ongoing and elusive peace process with ethnic armed groups.

“Without her, I see no one to lead the peace process,” he said.