The cards are truly stunning and very different...
Greeting Cards on canvass are really special !!
...Frank Norel goes
looking for original paintings at
Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon...
San Market has a fascinating range of paintings from hand-painted greeting
cards, to the canvas copies of famous Myanmar paintings to original canvas
paintings by well-known and not so well known painters.
There are four shops, adjacent to each other, selling hand painted greeting cards. One of the four shops is run by proprietor and artist U Kyaw Than who has been a painter for over 44 years. He opened when the market opened in 1972. He makes hand painted greeting cards, birthday cards, seasonal cards, including Christmas and New Year. All have Myanmar settings of people, places and things. All are hand painted in watercolours or oils, gold foil or professional photographs. His best season is Christmas when he sells over 4,000 cards. For the rest of the year, sales depend on the ebb and flow of the tourists.
He also sells works of many of his artist friends, such as Soe Than. Soe Than has 30 different greeting card paintings in water colour. Another friend is Mg Yan Naing. About 12 of U Kyaw Than’s friends display at his shop.
U Kyaw Than is a member of the Artists and Artisans Association that holds exhibitions regularly, usually every two weeks, in the back of his place. This is the association’s sales centre: most of the present famous Myanmar painters started here.
The relative isolation of Myanmar over the last several decades means that Myanmar’s original paintings are truly indigenous and uninfluenced by foreign developments. This is good in that the art is truly Myanmar. Myanmar painters thus have their own style and methods.
Most of the artwork is done in watercolours or oils. The motifs in most cases are rural village life and Buddhist Temples, Pagodas and Monks. They depict Myanmar manners, customs and scenes.
The best known Myanmar artist overseas would probably be Mm Wae Aung. He recognises a problem for painters in Myanmar which is that the country has few art collectors. Foreign diplomats and companies buy most paintings. And all they want is souvenir paintings of Myanmar
Art gallery owner U Myint Lwin mentions that Singaporeans buy paintings from Myanmar and then sell them at auctions in
Singapore at prices four times higher then what they paid for them!
For the tourist this is good news. Buy now and be proud of the deal you have made. Buy what you like and like what you buy. The prices you pay now will soon be impossible in the future as more and more Myanmar painters are holding exhibitions overseas and gaining recognition for the artistic quality and uniqueness of their work.
Another art outlet, Ivy Gallery has mostly original paintings by such artists as Aung Kyaw Oo, Tun Naing, Me Me Aung, Kwaw Wai, Bogei and Phone Kyi.
Spread out in the market are Ivy I, run by Myat Mm, Ivy II, run by Myint Zu Aye and Ivy III, run by Ma Thet Thet. All have originals and some copies thrown in. The copies of more famous works are also a good buy as good artists to supplement their income do most of these.
Ma Thet Thet became an arts distributor in 1996. She buys most originals by Myanmar painters at exhibitions and copies from artists who bring them in. Other artists’ works to look for include Kyaw Thaung, U Lun Gywe and Tin Muang Oo.
With thanks to Frank Norel and Air Mandalay's "Golden Fight" magazine
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