Black and white ex­hibit tack­les ex­pres­sion­ism

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - LAE PHYU PYA MYO MYINT lae­phyupya@gmail.com

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.”

Photos: Supplied

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.

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