Still life under the sunlight
THESE days there are almost daily art events in Yangon and it is a good sign for the city’s thriving visual arts landscape, for art enthusiasts as well as for the artists.
One of these ongoing exhibitions is at the iconic LoKanat Galleries at the Sofaer Building in Pansodan Street. Called “Under the Sunlight” the event is solo show by Win Pe Myint, popularly known by his initials, WPM.
This well-known artist was born in Minbu in 1948, and graduated from The Rangoon Arts and Science University in Yangon in 1970. His interest in drawing and painting started in his childhood. He learned his craft from four famous local art masters: U Lun Gywe, U Thein Han, U Shwe Oung Thame, and U Paw Oo Thett. Each of these veteran painters taught him different skills that made him what he is today.
He had been conducting solo shows since 1977, and has held 18 solo exhibitions so far. WPM stand out for his subjects and styles, so people like to see and collect his artworks extensively.
For this art show, the general theme of his works is “Our earth lies in the solar system.”
He said he is trying to emphasise that life on earth falls under the influence of the sun.
“Sunlight is essential to our world. Things and objects become more interesting under the sunlight than under shade and they can become exceptionally beautiful. I did the paintings with this in mind,” WPM said.
While the subjects the artist chooses to portray are common everyday objects such as fruits, glass and glazed bottles, pots, flowers, dried leaves, his skills with paint give common things an amazing, almost incandescent quality.
Objects transcend themselves once WPM puts them on canvas and his brushwork captures the essence of the subjects in his still-life paintings.
One of the exhibition notes in the gallery states that the artist’s desire to paint “anything in sunshine” because of how the light brings out dark shadow tones and intense colours. WPM said this allows him to see unexpected arrangements of colours and lines. The mood his paintings generate are likely to leave long impressions on viewers. For this exhibition, he showcased more than 20 artworks done in watercolour, acrylic and oil paintings.
Among the paintings on show is the 36 by 48 inch piece Flowers, Fruits, and Pots priced at US$3000 (K4.76 million). Another painting that caught the eye of this writer is Apples for You (US$3000), a piece done in oil, which almost exudes a sense of calm.
Among other standout pieces was Tropical Light (30 by 36 inches, US$1500) which was drawn in oil and depicts a bunch of red bananas and a half peeled banana under sunlight. The colour white is the centre of interest in this painting, and is intensified by the other colours surrounding it. The spatial arrangement of the fruits provides a wellbalanced composition of the painting.
Another painting titled Yellow Fruits in acrylic is also striking for its use of colour.
A watercolour piece titled April (9 by 12 inches, US$200) depicts the dryness and heat of the hot season which is illustrated beautifully through dry leaves.
But one of the more interesting artworks in this exhibition was an 14 by 18 inch oil on canvas piece titled “the Art Book” which, unfortunately, was not for sale.
The artworks on display are visually magnetic and transfix viewers who feast their eyes on the well-presented paintings, while providing them with fleeting moments to enjoy and appreciate the simple pleasures in life, the ordinary things we see every day in our house, in the street, in the office or in the school… all under the sunlight. San Lin Tun is a freelance writer of essays, poetry and short stories.