Life and Art of Myoe Win Aung

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Myoe Win Aung is one of the leading watercolorists in Myanmar today.  One of the first painters to be discovered by foreign art lovers in the 1990s, he is both prolific in his output and versatile in his range of subjects which include traditional Myanmar landscapes in Bagan, Shan State, Sagaing Divisions, beaches and depictions of Buddhist life in his signature portraits of monks and nuns in everyday settings. His best works playfully capture the various textures and shadings of light to illuminate the beauty and fluidity of colour and light in nature.  His accessibility to and popularity with foreign viewers can be attributed to his wide array of Myanmar subjects, landscapes and rich variety of commonplace scenes of community, opening a window into Myanmar life.  His signature paintings of novices and young boys playing together are especially touching in its depiction of innocence, camaraderie and friendship. 

His art works have been presented at over eighteen overseas exhibitions including in the US, Europe, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.


Myoe Win Aung 007 ps

“Monks"
Watercolour, 38cm x 52cm


Early Life and Art Training

Myoe Win Aung was born in 1972 in Yangon as the first son of the oil painter U Kyin Ohn. Although he loved to paint since he was very young, his father was rather reluctant to teach him painting and instead encouraged him to focus on his studies. His parents dissuaded him to pursue painting out of worry for the difficult painters’ career, which typically brings endless hardship and struggles. 

 

Despite his parents’ worries, Myoe Win Aung began painting earnestly when he was in middle school and was soon resolved to become a painter. He joined the department of painting in the State School of Fine Arts in Yangon in 1989 for three years.  In his batch (1989–1992), the number of art students only numbered twelve in the department. One of them was the female painter, Moh Moh Win, who also belongs to Golden Valley Art Centre (a.k.a. GV). But most of his former classmates eventually went into other businesses rather than pursue painting after graduation.  

 

Path to be a Professional Painter

After gradation from the State School of Fine Arts in 1992, Myoe Win Aung drifted between several galleries over a year. He even tried to establish one art gallery in Golden Valley, Yangon with his friend but co-management of the gallery was too complicated for the young painters. Finally Myoe Win Aung settled at GV since 1993 and he has developed his art with being there.  Myoe Win Aung’s first contact with GV was in 1989 when the gallery organized, jointly with the Korean Women Association, an art competition for the students at the State School of Fine Art where he won the first prize. Since then, the gallery owner, U Peter Tayzar Linn became the art teacher, mentor and fatherly figure of the painter. Another core influence of him was GV lead artist and art master, U Lun Gywe. The master used to have art lessons in GV several days a week. In the art school, only basic art principles and methods were generally taught, but the master imparted more practical techniques and skilful adaptations. Although his painting style appears differently from the master, he said he learnt a lot from the master.     

 

As the Watercolorist

Myoe Win Aung remembers his first sale back in 1992 - a painting of Sagaing Hill - which earned him 2,800 Kyat. At that time, even U Lun Gywe’s paintings cost only about 15,000 Kyat. So this first sale was a big encouragement for the young painter who just started his career. He used to focus on great details in his paintings but has gradually become more interested in depicting light, shadows and capturing mood and atmosphere. One of his favourite motifs is the rainy scene, in which he enjoys to paint obscure lights and washy refractions where scarce variety of colours looks more vivid and conspicuous.

      

His signature watercolors including Myanmar historical sites, city scenes in rain, monks and nuns, have gradually and certainly attracted local and foreign viewers. Despite the current developing popularity, Myoe Win Aung is also struggling to explore new styles or motifs, which he wishes to develop further. He tries to paint motifs like birds, fighting rooters or white heron, often with oil on canvas and on rice papers to enjoy unique texture. 

 

As his favourite foreign artist, he named Joseph Zkuavic. At first, Myoe Win Aung encountered the painting of this Australian watercolorist in the book and later learned more about him through Internet. By knowing that some web sites introduce the paintings of Joseph Zkuavic and Myoe Win Aung side by side, he feels so happy and grateful.

 

While Myoe Win Aung always wishes to be the best watercolorist, GV owner U Peter Tayzer Linn wishes him to be a good watercolor instructor. U Peter believes Myoe Win Aung’s art must be inherited to other young Myanmar artists to flourish Myanmar watercolor culture in the future. A number of young painters have been trained by Myoe Win Aung including Mg. Thein Hlaing, Aung Zoe Moe, Htwe Htwe Win and Thaingi, all are GV fellow painters.  

 

The Family and the Gallery

Myoe Win Aung has married since 1995 and has one daughter and two sons. He is a devoted father who loves to spend time with his children. Every morning, the father and children jog together around the Inya Lake, the largest lake in Yangon. Sometimes his elder son (nine years old as of 2013) paints together with him, that he proudly announced with radiant smile.

 

He occasionally helps the gallery even for carpentry to repair walls or roofs with his painter brother-in-law, Aung Zoe Moe. It may be hard to assume the guy holding a paint bucket and brush on top of the ladder is the widely know popular watercolorist. But most importantly, Myoe Win Aung is very good cook and his family as well as GV painters enjoy his cooking very much! He cooks simple yet tasty Myanmar traditional dishes in practiced hand, which other painters are never able to follow.

 

 

(Interviewed by Pirica Art Centre on 29th April 2013)    

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