Artist finds beauty in the bare

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - NYO ME ny­ome@mm­times.com

NU­DITY, even in the arts, is a still a taboo sub­ject in Myan­mar where dress is fairly con­ser­va­tive and the slight­est hint­ing at sex­u­al­ity in film is cut from the reel.

To­day, how­ever, seven con­tem­po­rary artists are ex­plor­ing the nude body and more in both re­al­ist and ab­stract acrylic paint­ings in the Planet of Color ex­hi­bi­tion, cur­rently on view at Lokanat Gallery from Novem­ber 9 to 13.

The ex­hi­bi­tion or­gan­iser, Chan Nyein Kyaw, who goes af­fec­tion­ately by CNK, wanted to give Myan­mar artists a plat­form for ex­pres­sion through vi­brant, loud colour play.

“The essence of the paint­ings here is colour – not just the pri­mary ones, red, green, blue, but also black and white,” said Chan Nyein Kyaw, who held his first group show in 1996. “I planned to do this as a solo show a year ago but I don’t have enough painting on my own so I in­vited friends.”

How­ever, Planet of Color works to delve far be­yond in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tions of color; in fact, it verges on so­cial com­men­tary about rep­re­sen­ta­tions of women in the arts.

Three artists – Min Zay Yar Oo, Yan Naing Tun, and Zaw Min Thein – challenge artis­tic con­ven­tions and por­tray the nude body through street photography and mod­elled fig­ure draw­ings of women.

“This is my first time draw­ing nudes,” said Zaw Min Thein, who learned to draw in 1996 but be­came a pro­fes­sional artist only in 2011. “I’ve al­ways liked to draw nudes but it is dif­fi­cult to find mod­els, es­pe­cially here.”

Thirty-year-old artist Min Zay Yar Oo told The Myan­mar Times that he spends his days out­doors draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the peo­ple who pop­u­late his neigh­bor­hood in Dagon Seikkan town­ship.

“I be­came friends with the chil­dren who are play­ing in street. They take baths com­pletely naked in the drain. See­ing them, I had the idea to draw nat­u­ral and in­no­cent forms like them,” he said.

In his pho­to­graphs, the chil­dren ap­pear with their arms out­stretched on the shoul­ders of an­other, show­ing for Min Zay Yar Oo the unity and peace­ful­ness of the un­cor­rupted child mind.

This photo set later in­spired a painting en­ti­tled “Peace to The New World 2,” which was awarded best painting of 2016 in the Tun Foun­da­tion’s painting com­pe­ti­tion.

Yan Naing Tun, who has been painting for 15 years also ex­plored nu­dity in his on­go­ing series de­pict­ing fe­male nudes. He said, “I would like to show the tex­tures and feel­ings as they [the women] con­trol their shy­ness and fear of other women in my sim­ple paint­ings. I used a gold colour for skin to show their value.”

Though artists are div­ing into some­what un­charted space, au­di­ences are still sur­prised to see nudes on dis­play in the coun­try’s cul­ture cap­i­tal.

Ma Ni Ni, a reporter from New Watch, re­counted hav­ing a phys­i­cal reaction to the ex­hibit, her hands be­com­ing cold and shaky as she looked on at the paint­ings.

“How can I take a news pho­to­graph of the ex­hibit?” she asked.

Planet of Color will be on view at Lokanat Gallery from Novem­ber 9-13.

Photo: Nyo Me

Yan Naing Tun stands be­fore two of his nude paint­ings.

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