Father of the NLD flag:
Remembering Maung Maung Thaik
HIS most celebrated work, once banned, can now be seen everywhere.
Maung Maung Thaik, who designed the original flag of the National League for Democracy, died five years ago, but his fellow artists and admirers remember him still.
On September 25, they held a one-day commemoration in his honour at A-1 Studio. His son Zay Phyo and his old friend U Thein Htut organised the exhibit, putting on display more than 70 of his artworks.
“We brought together artists who had known my father and asked them for their memories of him,” said Zay Phyo. “I also contributed some cover art, as well as 13 paintings of my own, five posters and some old designs by U Thein and portraits of my father painted by his colleagues. Most of the covers are not original, but soft copies that I printed out.”
Zay Phyo said he had organised a similar exhibition at Gallery 65 three years ago to commemorate the second anniversary of his father’s passing. At that time, many of the paintings were available for purchase; this year’s celebration however, was not for sale.
Friend U Thein Htut remembered growing up with the late Maung Thaik in the 1940s and 1950s. He said they went into business together during Thingyan in 1950.
“Then, all the ladies wore longyis during the water festivities. We painted padauk flowers on plain longyis in oils and sold them for 25 pya each,” he said, remembering a bygone era. “This was at the time when our pocket money was only 5 or 10 pya. We painted about 30 longyis. I think of Maung Thaik every Thingyan.
“He was a great freehand artist and very knowledgeable about anatomy. He painted a lot of portraits of women. He would never illustrate a book cover without reading the whole book first, in order to get a feeling for it,” he said.
Painter Myo Myint Nyein also shared memories of Maung Maung Thaik, explaining how he came up with his iconic image.
“In 1988, the NLD engaged a traditional painter from Mandalay to come up with a design for the party flag. But a technical problem arose with the silkscreen printing. So Maung Maung Thaik drew the yellow peacock trying to reach the white star against the red background red,” said painter Myo Myint Nyein.
The current design of the flag has since been slightly altered.
Video clips of the memorial speeches by cartoonists U Ngwe Kyi, U Kyaw Thaung and U Tin Hla Win were also displayed at the memorial, while painters were invited to draw portraits of hired models in the same style as Maung Maung Thaik’s old book covers.
Maung Maung Thaik died of cancer at the age of 66 in August 2011.
A1 Film is a Myanmar production company that has won Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards. It produced the 1940 film Chit Yay Sin and the 1935 Japan Yin Thwe.
Maung Maung Thaik, who died five years ago on September 25, designed the iconic NLD flag back in 1988.
During the event, guest artists were invited to paint portraits of models in the same style as Maung Maung Thaik.
On September 25, his son Zay Phyo (centre-right), hosted a commemoration in his honour at A-1 Studio. Zay Phyo and his family are shown here next to a portrait of Maung Maung Thaik.
Guests mill around the A-1 Studio on September 25 to examine Maung Maung Thaik’s work and the tributes to him.
The artist also made a career painting novel and magazine covers.