Naing Swann
[gallery type="slideshow" ids="105944,105945,105946,105947,105948"] RANGOON — Born in 1941 in a small village in Magwe Division’s Pakokku District, Maung Di, whose original name is Myo Nyunt, has displayed a passion for drawing since he was a child. His work can be seen as both modern and contemporary, reflecting personal and pluralistic feelings. Most of his work also follows the tenets of minimalism, a key aspect of modern art. From 1959 to 1962, he worked as a cartoonist for Mandalay Bahosi Newspaper. He studied at the Rangoon School of Fine Arts from 1967 to 1970, taking part in an arts exhibition for the first time in 1969. It would be 10 years later, in 1979, that he would stage his first solo show. Thirty-six years on, Maung Di has carved out a career as a versatile artist, seamlessly fashioning himself as a poet, columnist and an illustrator. Renowned vocalists Thu Maung and Khin Maung Toe have transformed Maung Di’s poems “Breeze” and “The Beginning of Young Eagle’s Life” into songs and performed them. Maung Di held his second solo arts show in 1998, with more rounds of shows following in 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2012. The 74-year-old showcased his seventh solo arts exhibition “East Village” at Think Art Gallery last August in Rangoon. As a true believer in “simplicity,” many of Maung Di’s paintings do not involve much drawing. “I don’t draw much in my paintings. You could say this follows the principle of minimalism. Many people have this deep-seated feeling that they need to have complex drawing designs or work frantically for their works to be recognized. This is happening not only in art but in other fields as well. That’s not good. To me, art is about doing what I am supposed to do, presenting what I believe in. It’s not for money, not for popularity,” he said. Maung Di believes education, arts, political, economic and social spheres are interrelated, a view that aligns closely with the guiding beliefs of modern art. “If we don’t have modern views and don’t know modern languages and don’t appreciate modern art, it’s impossible for our country to develop. A country in which modern art isn’t developed isn’t able to stand out on the international stage. If the people of our country don’t understand or appreciate modern art, our country won’t be good,” Maung Di said. On the invitation of his seventh exhibition, he writes, “Painting for Eyes, not for Ears. The Brain is a Memory Box. It is a Computer. It is not a Man. It has no heart. You can feel.”

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