From Myanmar with Love…

As Myanmar navigates its transition to democracy and opens up to the world, there is a renewed interest in its variegated art and culture. This week, the Indian capital is getting a taste of rare Myanmarese art in an exhibition entitled “From Myanmar with Love.”

In India, Myanmar, popularly known here as Burma, has always evoked much interest and the country’s current embrace of democratic reforms has been the subject of much animated analysis and debate. Now, Indian art lovers are discovering the works by five emerging artists, including Aung Myint, K. Kyaw, Maung Aw, Than Kyaw Htay and Zaw Win Pe. They are not totally new to India – they had exhibited solo at the Alliance Francaise in the capital in 2012. The exhibition is being staged at the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS) Feb 19-24 in New Delhi.

For Indians, the exhibition is an eye-opener as these paintings and art works give them a glimpse into the soul of Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country that has endured isolation for decades and has been ruled by the military junta all these years. But with Myanmar opening up and Indian businesses looking at that country anew, contemporary Burmese art has a potential market among Indian corporate art collectors.

A predominantly Buddhist country, contemporary Burmese art is an amalgam of deeply-entrenched Buddhist beliefs and motifs on the one hand and reflects complex existential realities of that country on the other hand.

The 67-year-old Aung Myint, for example, is widely seen as a pioneer in experimental art and is one of the founding members of Yangon’s Inya Art Gallery. He is quite an innovator as he juggles performance and installation art in his multi-disciplinary artistic practice. His art reflects a host of contemporary issues and the challenges made on Myanmarese in their quest for self-fulfillment and self-definition. Famous for his “Mother and Child” series, Aung Myint has participated in a slew of exhibitions and performance art projects internationally as well as in Myanmar. His works have been showcased in the permanent art collection of the National Art Gallery of Malaysia, Singapore Art Museum, and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.

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Sonali Bose
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