Black and white exhibit tackles expressionism
YANGON can be a multicultural explosion of colour, and that’s exactly why Min Thu Rein’s latest exhibition “BNW solo expression” sticks to black and white. “It’s supposed to be a temporary escape from the colourful social life of Yangon – and into the stark world of black and white,” he told The Myanmar Times earlier this week.
The exhibition, which opened November 18 and runs through tomorrow at Ahla Thit Art Gallery, features 20 expressionist paints and four installations by Min Thu Rein and marks his eighth solo exhibition.
The native of Taunggok in Rakhine State said that while art cannot sustain him full time – he has other parttime jobs that he did wish to disclose – he considers art his “main purpose”.
“Although I work the other job for my livelihood, my main work is writing poetry and painting,” he said. “But it can be difficult to make ends meet for my family.”
A visit to the gallery in Bahan township reveals a somber setting of raw positives and negatives. Ahla Thit Art Gallery owner Nann Nwe said he selected the exhibition after falling in love with his work.
“I feel his paintings and installations have a freedom to them,” he said. “They’re quite contemporary.”
Nowhere is that sentiment clearer than in his installations, created with iron chains and saws. The metallic elements, painted black, contrast sharply against a simple white tablecloth on which they rest: The result is a harsh and jagged sculpture made up of many independent parts.
“Each of these things have a clear meaning on their own,” Min Thu Rein said, gesturing to the saw. “But when separated and combined in new ways, there’s suddenly a new emotion that comes about in the viewer.”
Other installations include combinations of white and black clothing with painted chinlone cane balls and bandula hats (a traditional toy hat), which Min Thu Rein said are intended to show the feelings he experienced after reading a book about chess.
Despite coming from Rakhine State – where ethnic tensions have been turbulent in recent months – Min Thu Rein said he doesn’t feel that his art needs to be interpreted politically.
“I create my art through the lens of my own life and experience,” he said. “When the audience views it, they do so through their own personal perspective. But the artist is not responsible for the viewer’s personal biases – my art is just a mirror of my self, and it’s up to the people to see it as they wish.”
He added that Myanmar’s gradual opening-up to the world has infused the Yangon art scene with more opportunities for showcases and exhibits. “We now have the chance to exchange ideas with international artists,” he said.
But it may be artists like him who have the most immediate effect – Min Min, a 20-year-old art student who visited the exhibit, told The Myanmar Times that Min Thu Rein’s exhibition left him pondering many existential quewstions.
“It’s clear that all of these works were made after intense thought,” he said. “I am now thinking many deep thoughts myself.”
Min Thu Rein’s “BNW solo expression” exhibit at Ahla Thit Art Gallery features several installations like this one, which is inspired by a chessboard.
The exhibition features 20 expressionist paintings and four installations.