A solo art exhibition, “CONSCIOUSNESS OF REALITIES”, was presented by Aung Myat Htay at Myanm/art for three weeks, starting from 6th to 28th July. Different from the traditional model of artwork in Myanmar, this art series includes contemporary art concepts into the traditional means of painting and sculpture as well as exploring the roots of Burmese people in a psychological and physiological way.
The opening was held on 6th July at 6 p.m. with a short performance. One of the artworks entitled “The Institution of the Republic of Artopia” is four marble carved book with curved hybrid beetlebug shapes. To complete the work, he invited guests to participate in the artwork by donating their blood on the spot. And he used the syringe with blood as a paintbrush to fill the hybrid beetles. This idea comes from Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution book, associating with the dictatorship in Myanmar, where emperors use the blood of the citizens to create their kingdom.
“On the marble stone, you can see the figure mixed two or three species of bugs in one. The artopia symbolizes that the artists are establishing their own wall with their ego,” Mr Aung Myat Htay said.
Tracing back to history and religion, this art exhibition mainly explores the origin of the locals through the perception of visual hybridity. The idea is as follows: Although Burmese people consist of native and migrated species, they are raised in the same land and eventually integrate into one culture.
“As a Burmese, we are immigrants with distinct species just as in a thousand years ago, coming down from the hill to find a good landscape for living. We have different colours, languages and appearances,” he explained the theme. “Under this situation, we meet each other and build our culture. And we are like a mixing breed of different countries. This exhibition portrays this concept. And I want people to reconsider and redefine the roots of our nationality.”
Myanm/art, is an art gallery and exhibition area displaying growing modern artists in Myanmar and endeavours to support and serve local artists. This time, the gallery has collaborated with Aung Myat Htay to showcase his artwork in the hope to support the contemporary artist in Myanmar.
“A few years ago, there was very little information about what the artists were doing here. I want to expose what they were doing and talk about how the artists are creating this protest, this fight and their own world,” the director of the gallery, Nathalie Johnston, said.
Mr Aung Myat Htay utilized a plethora of medium to illustrate philosophical concepts into his work, showing the new model of art to the Burmese audiences. Yet, many Myanmar artists still employ traditional methods and ideas to create their artwork while society is not familiar with the conceptual display.
“To them, art is something making a beautiful painting, drawings, portraits. But art is also a kind of philosophy and conceptual expression. It is in multiplicity. The art community in Myanmar is somehow blocked in the old ideology because the education system only involves the old model of art. It is not updated,” he elaborated.
“Myanmar artists that are not of the traditional ideology work in alternative mediums. They have different desires instead of just painting beautiful landscapes. They have more conceptual and experimental ideas. That’s why I create this space without boundaries and censorship for them,” Nathalie mentioned.
Art development in Myanmar needs more help from the world. Many talented artists exist in this community, but they are trapped and struggle to maintain their basic living as an artist. “In Myanmar, it’s hard to survive to be an artist. Nowadays, we usually try to earn a living with different careers at the same time, like designer and photographer,” She, who is working as an art teacher now, added.
Despite the fact that the art market in Myanmar is improving and progressing gradually, the talents of the Myanmar artists are neglected internationally. Nathalie suggested that the artists are somehow ignored by the international community and there is a lack of interest in creating a market for Myanmar that welcomes it. At the same time, the market capability is low due to lack of investment.
Artists are seldom invited to international art fairs. Their artworks can rarely shine in the international art scene.
“I have always believed in the Myanmar art scene. I find it incredible and fascinating and big,” she expressed with hope.