MANDALAY — In a country still grappling with civil war, Burmese contemporary artist Kyi Wynn has set his sights on peace—or more specifically, the 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates who hail from Asia.
At the recently concluded “Homage to Asian Peace Nobelists” exhibition in Mandalay, the collection of portraits offered depictions of some of the continent’s most recognizable faces, including the Vietnamese revolutionary Le Duc Tho; Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama; South Korea’s former President Kim Dae-jung; Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo; Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan; and of course, Burmese pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
“This is to honor the Asian Nobel Peace Prize winners who have worked hard for democracy and human rights in their countries,” said the Rangoon-based Kyi Wynn, whose three-day exhibition wrapped up on Sunday.
Kyi Wynn, who studied under the late, veteran artist Thu Kha, has held many exhibitions since 1989, both at home and abroad, using canvas and colorful paints. For this exhibition, however, the artist distinguished his works by using stainless steel plates as his “canvas” and acid as the precursor “paint,” a technique that was a first for the artist and quite possibly, he said, the last.
“These paintings could be limited edition within my art collection, because the method is so tricky, time-consuming, costly and requiring of extreme care. I can’t guarantee myself that I’ll paint them [like this] again in future, although the result is fabulous,” he said.
Starting from a plain sheet of stainless steel, the artist applied a sticker to each, forming the rough outlines of each laureate’s face. Acid was then poured onto the metal, creating a more solid base for the paint that the artist later applied to complete the portraiture. Upon peeling back the sticker, after applying black spray paint, the contrast of hue and light dazzles.
“I call my paintings ‘Artistic Erosion on Steel,’ because I used acid to wear down the steel and spray paint on it,” said the artist.
The portraits of Asia’s 16 Nobel laureates are available for sale, with each offered at the sizeable price tag of US$4,500. Interested art collectors can contact the Lokanat Gallery in Rangoon for details.