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Painting With Precision

Kyaw Phyo Tha The Irrawaddy

RANGOON — His paintings are generically still lifes, but to be more accurate, they are photorealist. And if you say they look like photos, Min Mahaw Moe won’t deny it.

“I love how things really look, so I paint them just the way they are,” the 38-year-old says.

When Min Mahaw Moe undertakes a new project, he painstakingly works for several days with acrylic paint to depict every detail of his subject. The final result is a reflective and clean still life that leaves viewers wondering whether the artist used a paintbrush or a camera.

The super-realist style has been Min Mahaw Moe’s preference since the early 2000s, when he first saw paintings by Richard Estes, an American artist known as a founder of the international photorealist movement of the late 1960s. But Estes’ focus on cities and geometric landscapes did not appeal as much as his style to the Burmese graduate of the State School of Fine Arts (Rangoon).

“I’m more interested in subjects that we rarely see in our daily lives,” he said. “When I paint still lifes, I can manipulate the composition in a way I like.”

With an interest in antiques, he chooses subjects that range from violins to film cameras dating back nearly 50 years. Figures in his still-life paintings are women in traditional dress from the British colonial era.

Is he satisfied with his work thus far?

“No,” the Rangoon-native artist says. “My paintings can still be differentiated from photographs. I want something more, beyond that.”