Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Aung Kyaw Htet's paintings of monks --


In the last decade, paintings of monks seen from the back, painted by master Burmese painter Min Wae Aung, have been all the rage. Min Wae Aung is one of the most successful artistically and commercially of a dozen or so modern Burmese painters.

His work spawned a whole coterie of imitators, some good, some bad. I am including Aung Kyaw Htet's paintings here because I feel he has a particular artistic and humanistic sensitivity of his own. Here he transcends his role of "copyist." In fact, of course, he is not "copying," he is painting the same subject matter but in his own distinctive way.

It is ironic and sad now that news pictures of monks from the back, so they can't be identified by the Burmese military intelligence, have begun to "ape" paintings of monks from the back.

On Aung Kyaw Htet's website, I would like you to note especially the monks in white. Thai novices wear white, as do Thai nuns.

And I believe Aung Kyaw Htet was depicting monks in white to also appeal to a Thai audience and for purposes of conveying mood in color.

Everyone, please note the Burmese artists were painting monks long before the monks demonstrated en mass last month. It was before then a safe subject and the monasteries were safe places. But this is no longer true.

For the superstitious military and other persons, I'd like to say -- white has traditionally been the color of mourning for Thai and Burmese royalty. Everyone knows the present Burmese junta leaders like to see themselves as royalty. So when the senior general's daughter dressed herself in white last year at her wedding, according to "Burmese military logic" she was 1. being westernized, 2. in mourning, for an event yet to be?

Copyright KMK 10-9-2007