Contemporary Art in Myanmar
TRiCERA, Inc. is pleased to announce that we have commenced showcasing artworks from River Gallery, Myanmar’s leading gallery for contemporary art. Here, we are proud to present a total of 49 works by ten artists from them.
In recent years, like Art Basel Hong Kong has launched The Insight Sector to introduce the art scene in Asia and the Asia Pacific region, Asia is increasing its presence in the art industry. As the effort to analyze it, there has been a great deal of attention poured into Asia’s unique, so to speak, the indigenous art scene, which is quite different from that of the West.
When focusing on the contemporary art scene in Myanmar, which is supposedly distinct from that of local folk paintings and folk art, paradoxically or ironically, their indigenous culture and social history cannot be ignored.
Myanmar declared independence from British colonial rule in 1948 and established democracy and cultural education. However, due to the instability of its political base, ethnic minority issues, and internal political conflicts, a coup d ‘état occurred in 1962. Since then, the military regime had taken over and governed until the pro-democracy movement in 1988.
The military regime had suppressed art activities and its recognition among people, so it was civil rights. But with the pro-democracy movement, a contemporary art movement was also born in 1979.
About 20 students who were independently engaged in art research at, what is now, the University of Yangon, formed a group called Gangaw Village, which was the first contemporary art movement in Myanmar. It developed mainly on its own interpretation of Western Abstract Expressionism and was also the first to connect with the Western art scene.
Nevertheless, as the military regime’s influence has not yet disappeared, the art community has not been welcomed at the time. Although it has struggled to sustain its growth, in the 1990s, this group, formed mainly with students, sought out opportunities for presentations and activities outside of the university. It resulted in the formation of “Modern Art 90” in 1990 and “New Zero Art Group” in 2000 that has become the engine for the new artists to emerge in the global stage.
River Gallery’s attempt to connect Myanmar’s contemporary art to the world
River Gallery, fourteen years since its start to the present day, has been expanding its activities in the international field as a Myanmar’s contemporary art gallery.
With over 40 artists participating, they have been examining how to promote their artists to the global art scene and international collectors since the political censorship era.
While the artists maintain elements that can withstand among the Western art context, they can present works so indigenous and historical enough that it tells Myanmar’s narration at the same time. That is why it has such a power to reveal, a black-box-like, hidden Asian art scene and its history.
Among the ten River Gallery artists that we introduce this time, Dawei Tu Tu (1972-), the painter of the Memories of a Monk series, says, “I wanted to hint at the presence of Buddhism and monks as the background of life in Myanmar.” It is a brief overlook of Myanmar’s culture, which is strongly supported by Buddhist perspectives on daily affairs and existence, that is realized in the artistic technique that complexly layering colors.
Also, abstraction runs strong in Myanmar’s art history, and Thar Gyi (1966-) carries it on then brings in a new angle to it. Interestingly, as he describes his work as “non-painting,” and his style is ambiguous. Inspired by a rural landscape he saw during a visit to a temple town in Myanmar, he adds a ridge-like formative element to their traditional use of internal rhythms from their painting history. He has achieved a unique position in terms of the history of abstract painting and that of Myanmar.
TRiCERA, Inc. is pleased to present 49 paintings from the River Gallery, a gallery that supports artists whose works boast their singularity evolved from Myanmar’s domestic art scene and the Western. We hope you will enjoy Myanmar’s history and the attempts in the art that embrace ethnic yet universal appeals.
Dawei Tu Tu (1972- )
Born in Myanmar, Tu Tu has participated in Myanmar exhibitions since 1997 and has also worked abroad, including in the UK and Singapore. His works have been awarded “Best Painting of the Year” at the Myanmar Asian Art Awards for three consecutive years since 2007. In his most recent series, titled “Memories of a Monk,” he utilizes high contrasts in lightness and a limited color palette. Through art, Tu Tu suggests “the spirituality that runs through underneath lives in Myanmar.”
Kyaw Lin (1975- )
Lin works globally, such as in Australia, Paris, and Hong Kong. His works are known for Myanmar and its surroundings’ structured landscape paintings, which feature characteristic color blocks in flat and muted tones. Even though they are landscape paintings, he avoids any explicit reference to materialistic objects, and instead, expresses the emotions and subtleties of nature in everyday life. He invites the appreciators to discover it themselves.
Thar Gyi (1966- )
With “non-painting” as his keyword, Gyi infuses a new angle to the history of domestic abstract painting by incorporating the formative element of the ridges found in the Myanmar countryside into his artwork. He subtly indicates and refers to the development of paintings in Myanmar and realizes the essence of visual arts and academism in art.