In­spi­ra­tion flows in Myan­mar

Eight Chi­nese painters on art and cul­ture ex­change pro­gram use their tal­ent, tech­niques to en­rich cre­ativeties. Wang Yuke and Yang Han in Yan­gon, Myan­mar.

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As a 10-day art and cul­ture ex­change visit to Myan­mar drew to a close, par­tic­i­pat­ing artists pre­sented bril­liant wa­ter­color works in­spired by the Bud­dhist coun­try.

Myan­mar: Through the Dragon’s Brush, an art and cul­ture ex­change pro­gram or­ga­nized by China Daily and the Chi­nese Cul­ture and Art As­so­ci­a­tion, brought the work of nine Chi­nese artists to four ma­jor cities in Myan­mar — Yan­gon, Man­dalay, Bagan and Inle Lake — where they told tales of the coun­try with brushes and can­vas.

The 32 fin­ished works ex­hib­ited on the trip’s last two days were well re­ceived in Yan­gon, man­ag­ing to cap­ture the mul­ti­lay­ered char­ac­ter­is­tics of the coun­try — sa­cred and tra­di­tional, also hum­ble yet mod­ern.

Upon ar­rival in Yan­gon on Nov 14, the group was warmly wel­comed by Ar­gus Ang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of RVi Group, a main sup­port­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion for the ex­change pro­gram.

Over the next two days (Nov 15-16) in Yan­gon, the artists vis­ited the land­mark Sh­wedagon Pagoda and held a sketch ses­sion at Kan­daw­gyi Lake, which of­fered a dis­tant and panoramic view of the pagoda. They also vis­ited U Lun Gywe Art Gallery, for a glimpse into the lo­cal art forms, styles and gen­res.

The glit­ter­ing gilded stupa, be­ing ren­o­vated man­u­ally, stopped the artists in their tracks. They also mar­veled at the Myan­mar peo­ple’s faith in their re­li­gion.

A high­light dur­ing the stay in Yan­gon was a meet­ing with Hong Liang, the Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Myan­mar. Ac­knowl­edg­ing that the China-Myan­mar art ex­change trip helped artists from both sides to find com­mon ground cre­atively, Hong shared with the artists what the em­bassy has been do­ing to bol­ster cul­tural ties be­tween Myan­mar and China.

Apart from the open­ing in July of the China Cul­tural Cen­ter in Yan­gon, the em­bassy has held con­certs, grand shows and ex­hi­bi­tions in col­lab­o­ra­tion with na­tional and pro­vin­cial art in­sti­tu­tions from China.

The em­bassy en­vi­sions launch­ing an­other art cen­ter in the near fu­ture — in Myan­mar’s cap­i­tal, Naypyi­daw. It is pro­jected to be 15,000 square me­ters, much larger than the cur­rent cen­ter in Yan­gon. “We hope the art cen­ters in Myan­mar will serve Chi­nese artists as ‘free gal­leries’ that they can make full use of to ex­hibit their great works of art,” said Hong.

Pleased to see that reg­u­lar art per­for­mances and ex­hi­bi­tions have at­tracted cu­ri­ous lo­cals, Tian Shant­ing, cul­tural coun­selor at the em­bassy, de­clared that the newly opened art cen­ter will “open to the pub­lic ev­ery day, with cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able ev­ery week and high­light pro­grams ev­ery month”.

Although art is em­pha­sized in Myan­mar, the coun­try’s art has re­mained ob­scure on the world scene. Hong put this down to the coun­try’s in­sta­bil­ity, which had sub­dued the peo­ple’s cre­ativ­ity. He hoped the two-way com­mu­nica- tion on art be­tween China and Myan­mar could “help fuel the dy­namic of cre­at­ing art and prompt lo­cal artists to un­leash their po­ten­tial”.

Hong also noted that pro­mot­ing art ex­changes be­tween the two coun­tries against the back­drop of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has pro­found im­pli­ca­tions. Since Myan­mar

is a key di­rect ac­cess point to the In­dian Ocean for China, the im­pact of the China-Myan­mar art and cul­tural ex­change will ex­tend fur­ther to the re­gions along the In­dian Ocean, gen­er­at­ing fur­ther eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

Zhou Yanzhao, chair­man of the Chi­nese Cul­ture and Art Fed­er­a­tion and an in­ter­na­tional art critic, who ac­com­pa­nied the tour, said art acts as an ef­fec­tive medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. “Art helps to chan­nel one cul­ture into the other and es­tab­lishes mu­tual recog­ni­tion with other cul­tures. The mu­tual un­der­stand­ing is built through con­nec­tiv­ity, which is an un­con­scious and a grad­ual process,” he said.

Zhou added that col­lab­o­ra­tive paint­ing, an im­por­tant part of the Myan­mar art trip, is a good ex­am­ple of how artists can bond and at­tain har­mony through co­op­er­a­tion.

The artists spent an af­ter­noon in Man­dalay vis­it­ing the Kutho­daw Pagoda, which is renowned for con­tain­ing the world’s largest book — a gi­ant stone tablet at the foot of Man­dalay Hill in­scribed with text from the Bud­dhist Trip­i­taka. The shim­mer­ing gold-plated stupa, ubiq­ui­tous domed white shrines, del­i­cate mu­ral paint­ings and a rel­a­tively peace­ful vibe in­voked the artists’ de­sire to paint on the spot.

Next was a visit to the Myan­mar Chi­nese Cham­ber of Com­merce. U Myint Naing, the cham­ber’s ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man, has paid much at­ten­tion to art ed­u­ca­tion in Myan­mar.

Art ed­u­ca­tion providers are in short sup­ply in the coun­try and aware­ness is low, he said. He has ap­proached well-es­tab­lished art schools and troupes in China, hop­ing to co-launch ex­change pro­grams. Un­der con­struc­tion is a vo­ca­tional school with the sup­port of Yun­nan Univer­sity, in South­west China, where art courses will be avail­able.

The artists were split into two groups, ar­riv­ing in ei­ther Bagan or Inle Lake on Nov 18. Bagan is known for its pro­lif­er­a­tion of Bud­dhist tem­ples, pago­das and stu­pas, and the breath­tak­ing views at sun­set. Each group of artists was im­pressed — ei­ther by the grandeur of Bagan’s pago­das, or Inle’s serene lake lined with stilt houses — and their in­spi­ra­tion over­flowed.

Col­lab­o­ra­tive paint­ing ses­sions were held dur­ing the trip. Two com­pleted large-size group paint­ings were ex­hib­ited to­gether with 30 in­di­vid­ual works on Nov 21 and 22 at Junc­tion City in Yan­gon.

The open­ing cer­e­mony of the ex­hi­bi­tion was fol­lowed by a panel dis­cus­sion: fa­mous artists from China and Myan­mar shared their thoughts on the value of cul­ture and art ex­changes.

Among the guests was U Alis­tair Ang Eng Chong, gen­eral man­ager of RVi In­sti­tute, part of the RVi Group.

U Aik Htun, chair­man of Shwe Taung Group, a lead­ing cor­po­ra­tion in Myan­mar and a cospon­sor of the art tour, said: “The art ex­change pro­gram will help bring Myan­mar’s art and folk cul­ture to the in­ter-na­tional com­mu­nity. It will prove im­por­tant in boost­ing Myan­mar’s econ­omy.”

Shwe Taung Group has part­nered with cor­po­ra­tions from 12 coun­tries to im­prove the in­fras­truc­ture in Myan­mar, rang­ing from ex­press high­ways and rail­ways to bridges and hy­dro­elec­tric power. “But we can’t ne­glect the power of art,” said U Aik Htun. “Only by im­prov­ing the art in­tel­li­gence in the coun­try could peo­ple shape a for­ward-look­ing mind­set.”

The eight Chi­nese artists visit Myan­mar’s land­mark stupa Sh­wedagon Pagoda in Yan­gon, which later be­came a source of in­spi­ra­tion for their art cre­ation.

Some artists found the serene Kutho­daw Pagoda in Man­dalay a soughtafter place for sketch­ing. (From left) Cai Zhixin, Chai Bukuk, Chen Hang.

Vis­i­tors en­joy paint­ings by Chi­nese artists at the ex­hi­bi­tion in Yan­gon.

Hong Liang (right), Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Myan­mar, leads a group of Chi­nese artists on a tour of the em­bassy of China in Yan­gon.

U Tin Maung Tun (left), speaker of the Yan­gon Re­gion Par­lia­ment, at­tends the ex­hi­bi­tion’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

Chi­nese and Myan­mar artists col­lec­tively com­plete a paint­ing at the ex­hi­bi­tion’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

In­trigued by the one-leg row­ing skill unique to Inle Lake, artists Zhang Yaom­ing (left) and Yang Xun sketched on the dock in the morn­ing.

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