Artist: Thar Gyi
Venue: River Art Gallery #2 at Chindwin Chamber on 38th and Strand
More sophisticated art viewers may perhaps scoff at the title of Thar Gyi’s solo exhibition, “My Past, My Self” for being too obvious, or too simplistic. But to a more literal audience like myself, these self-evident titles at contemporary galleries are definitely a guiding star.
The sassy owner of this beautiful gallery, Gill explains in front of a similar frame as pictured above, how the artist is really celebrating the heritage and his roots, through the impeccably hand-drawn paint strokes and the mirrors, literally mirroring and reflecting the self, whether it’s a viewer or the artist, or the coalescing of the elements.
Shades drawn under the heavy paint at the bottom of the painting signify our ancestors, Gill explains. Stepping on the shadow of ancestors, the modern being celebrates life, with joy seeping, again, literally out of the charts.
This lighthearted interplay of paint and materials make for a refreshing change of topic seen in today’s Yangon art scene, where art highlighting class differences, political figures and poverty dominates, especially given the sudden relaxation of censorship in the formerly authoritarian country.
These are very serious and noteworthy topics, do not get me wrong. But at a time when Yangon is divided between progress and retreat, student protesters and police, the rich and the poor, and the business community and those who want to preserve Yangon the way it is (all good and bad), I welcome this joyous celebration of faith, humanity, family and heritage.
There is still optimism in today’s Yangon.