MIN WAE AUNG
B. Myanmar, 1960
Monks on Morning Round IV, 2005
Signed and dated “Min Wae Aung 05” on lower left
Acrylic on canvas
93 x 62.5 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Singapore
RM 10,000 – RM 15,000
Burmese art ha been influenced primarily by Theravada Buddhism and the culture of the Mon people, with additional influences from India, Thailand, and China. Themes are commonly drawn from Buddhist and Hindu cosmology and myths. Burma, now Myanmar is particularly renowned for its richness of Buddhist architecture, and is justifiably called “The Land of Pagodas”, as Buddhist monasteries and gilded pagodas dot the landscape.
The history of Myanmar art can be traced back to pre-historic times where stone age paintings were discovered in Pyadah-Lin Caves in the Taunggyi district of Shan State. Nine wall paintings and brown-coloured sketches were found there at a height of about 10 to 11 feet. Other wall paintings can be found in the “Lawka Hmankin” Cave at Saging hill in central Myanmar. This cave was dug into during the Inwa period of the Nyaung Yan Dynasty, between the 13th and 16th centuries. The paintings on the cave walls illustrate the life of Lord Buddha and the Jatakas-tales.
Eleventh century Pagan mural paintings depict a strong Indian influence and floral patterns as the main subject of the paintings. The Pagan period saw artists excel in line drawing, and popular techniques included fresco, oil painting and tempera painting. Most of the paintings depict the 550 Jatakas (stories on Buddha).
The Konbaung era (17th century), on the other hand, marked the transition from the Burmese traditional flat painting to embodying western styles, perspectives and tones. Hues of blue were used in abundance and the paintings created in that era illustrate the lifestyle, entertainment and scene of that period. During the colonial era, western styles and modern techniques were introduced and became highly popular. Contemporary art flourished in the 20th century, and Myanmar’s contemporary art now is predominantly impressionistic.
MODERN PERIOD OF IMPRESSIONIST- STYLE MYANMAR ART
Myanmar’s modern period of Impressionist-style saw the emergence of several artist sincluding U Lun Gywe, Burma’s leading and most respected impressionist. His teacher was U Than Han who studied under U Ba Nyan, the artist who introduced realism and impressionism to Myanmar in the 1930’s. U Lun Gywe is considered the master of drawing in both for realism and contemporary art. From the younger generation comes Min Wae Aung, one of the most successful and internationally- recognised artists. His traditionalised contemporary artworks are often exhibited in London, Singapore, Malaysia and other neighbouring countries.
Another modern impressionist is U Myo Khin from Mandalay. His strokes are bold and strong, yet expressing delicate feelings in meaningful paintings. He is the owner of the Mandalay Htan Yeik Nyo gallery where top artists meet and share their love of arts. This gallery holds monthly exhibitions every year and many visitors can explore Myanmar fine art. Myanmar artists are now attempting to work in many diverse forms and techniques. Some use various media such as bottle art, decorated straw art and candle art without violating realism or Myanmar traditional techniques.
MIN WAE AUNG
Min Wae Aung is a contemporary artist whose works are characterised by their strong association with Burmese culture and Buddhist philosophy. Born in 1960 in Danubyu in present-day Myanmar, Wae Aung studied at the State School of Fine Arts, Yangon before working as a commercial graphic artist and ultimately developing his signature aesthetics after a visit to the United States in 1993.
The artist captures the very essence of Myanmar, its spiritual and magical dimension, creating iconic characters, which perpetuate age-old traditions. Monks and nuns in burnt orange and maroon robes against striking a gold background, with dramatic effects of light and shade, are the hallmark of his works. Almost exclusively composed of representational acrylic and watercolour paintings of multiple robed figures, his works feature centrally-located people, primarily of monks in solid-colour space of yellow, orange, and red.
It can be discerned that outlines of the brightly coloured, subtly shaded figures are clearly delineated in black, against a background often executed in a contrasting pointillist manner. It is also evident that an intentional shimmering background seems to create an aura around the figures, which are thrown into greater focus, giving them an intense and luminous quality. They seem larger than life. His subjects’ faces are rarely shown, as Min desires to emphasise the monks’ movement. In his eyes, their anonymity helps convey how they are leaving humanity behind and going to a peaceful place, such as Nirvana.
Min Wae Aung’s paintings can be found in private and corporate collections across the globe, and he has held more than 50 international exhibitions to date. His works are held by the Singapore Art Museum, Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong, Nation Museum in Myanmar and Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan. His works are also collected by galleries and institutes in Singapore, Malaysia, the Netherlands, USA and UK, and are regularly showcased at art fairs.