U LUN GYWE

A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

U LUN GYWE
A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR
Edited by JØrn Middelborg

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Published by Thavibu Gallery Co. Ltd. Silom Galleria, Suite 308 919/1 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand Tel. (662) 266 5454, Fax. (662) 266 5455 Email. info@thavibu.com, www.thavibu.com Editor in Charge, Jørn Middelborg Language Editor, James Pruess Photography by Camera Collection, Thailand, and Moe Min, Myanmar Layout by Wanee Tipchindachaikul, Copydesk, Thailand Printed by Amarin Printing and Publishing Public Company Limited, Thailand Copyright Thavibu Gallery 2005 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. ISBN 976-92905-6-9

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U LUN GYWE - A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Foreword A Short Century: Myanmar Contemporary Art Spirit and Colour: The Art of U Lun Gywe Myanmar Visual Art: An Overview Plates Chronology 4 5 7 10 15 19 83

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
U Lun Gywe

I would like to express my words of thanks to those who have contributed to and assisted in the preparation of this book. As a Myanmar Buddhist, I would like to pay observance to Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, my parents and the art masters. In addition, I express my heartfelt thanks to my friends and family. In particular, I want to extend my sincere gratitude to my parents U Ba Khaing and Daw Ohn Thwin; to my art masters U Thet Win, U Chit Maung, U Ba Nyan, U Thein Han, U Ngwe Gaing and U San Win; and to Jørn Middelborg of Thavibu Gallery and Shireen Naziree, art historian and independent curator from Malaysia, for their support. I also want to thank U Win Pe (Mya Zin) of the Myanmar Language Commission, Daw Nu Mya Zan, Director of the National Museum, artist U Nay Myo Say, art critic U Sein Myo Myint, Daw Myint Myint Tin, and U Moe Min and his Cosmic Rays group of photographers. My thanks also go to the institutions and collectors who have put their collections of my paintings at disposal for inclusion in this book: The National Museum, Myanmar, and the National Art Gallery, Malaysia, U Nay Myo Say, the Saya Mg family, U Chit Tin/Daw Sann Sann, Lun Thit, Maung Han Htut, Andrew Ranard, and Jørn Middelborg.

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FOREWORD
Jørn Middelborg Thavibu Gallery

Thavibu Gallery is pleased to present this book which covers more than four decades of the life and work by the artist U Lun Gywe from Myanmar. He is often considered a living master of Myanmar paintings and is one of the most well known and respected artists in the country. He has been the teacher and mentor of numerous younger artists who have later gained recognition on their own terms. U Lun Gywe masters many techniques: charcoal and pastel drawings, watercolours and oil paintings on canvas. He received his formal training in Myanmar (called Burma at that time) and later in China and East Germany. His art teachers played important and instrumental roles in the young painter’s life, and he has often expressed admiration for and gratitude towards them. U Lun Gywe calls his style of painting impressionist. He carefully observes his environment and surroundings and records them in his mind. He says: “When I was walking on the beach, I could sense a beautiful and rhythmic composition and a sense of colours. After absorbing these impressions and returning to my studio, I reminded myself of what the feeling was like on the beach. As soon as I recalled the mood and inspiration, I painted rapidly with swift brush strokes to record what I could remember from my visit to the beautiful beach.” Although he mostly painted in a restrained, realistic and classical style during his early years, from the 1990s his colours have become brighter and the brush strokes more fluid and powerful. After retirement from his instruction and teaching work at the State School of Fine Arts in Yangon, he had more time to pursue his own paintings, and this is when his own, personal style developed. The swift brush strokes and the importance of creating paintings from your mind probably stems from his stay in China in 1964. He says: ”I learned that the Chinese had a completely different approach to art. We had gone out with sketchbooks to draw what we saw. The Chinese students did not take sketchbooks out with them to

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copy nature. They would store the image in their mind before returning to the studio and then they would paint what they had seen without any visual references. I found this a very useful exercise, for it developed the power of memory.”1 U Lun Gywe is especially apt at capturing the dynamics of a subject. It can be persons, often women, caught in an act of dancing or taking a bath. As few others, he is able to seize the moment and paint a gust of wind, rapidly flowing water in a river, waves pounding on the shore of a beach, or impressions of rain filling the canvas. The combination of movement, colours and emotions in his canvases reveal the work of a master painter.

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Jay, Sian E. (2001): In the Footsteps of the Masters, in Asian Art News Magazine, Hong Kong.

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A SHORT CENTURY: MYANMAR CONTEMPORARY ART
Shireen Naziree Art Historian and Independent Curator

Early evidence of Myanmar’s artistic history can be traced back to cave paintings of the Stone Age. But it is the introduction of Buddhism to Myanmar in the 5th century BC during the lifetime of Lord Buddha that has been most significant in the cultural landscape of Myanmar. Initially the function of art was mainly ethical and functional. Traditional painting and sculpture resplendent with religious overtones had important roles in the shaping of Myanmar society. Temple murals enlightened people on the teachings of Lord Buddha and stories of life. Sculptural forms and carvings that adorned temples and later palaces were naturally associated with Buddhist themes and spirituality. Although this traditional statuary was enhanced and stylized during the course of the various dynasties that ruled Myanmar, painters and sculptors were not recognized for their artistic creations. With no formal art training they were commonly referred to as artisans who generally worked under a “master” in a relationship that was more spiritual than tutorial. In essence, the early development of Myanmar art was more a matter of perfecting skills than of artistic expression. By the 19th century, evidence of change was signaled by the Western influences of British colonial rule. The continuing traditional painting with its carefully crafted lyrical and poetic symbolisms remained a vital aesthetic within the cultural psyche of Myanmar. But with the increasing number of foreigners who visited the country and the numerous architects and civil servants with artistic interests who settled in the larger cities of Mandalay and Yangon, the disciplines of Western art became of interest. The representative techniques of classic European art were studied and adapted to enhance the illusion of reality by the traditional Myanmar artists in their Buddhist interpretations. Expatriate artists added to the cult of the picturesque with detailed engravings that documented historical events and less formally with watercolours that portrayed the natural beauty of Myanmar and her people. While the influences of the conservative colonial perceptions in art continued, the representative art of Myanmar developed into a kind of craftsmanship where the aesthetic was often the result of a transcendental experience related to the lyrical sensibilities of Buddhism.

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The emergence of Myanmar modern art at the turn of the 20th century can be sighted through the works of U Ba Nyan (1897-1945). He played an important role in articulating new artistic thoughts, which later became the basis of Myanmar modern art. Originally apprenticed under a traditional painter, U Ba Nyan was the first Myanmar artist to have a formal art education that led him to graduate from England’s prestigious Royal College of Art in 1924 and consequently exhibiting his art in Europe as well as in Myanmar. With Yangon an important and thriving commercial capital under British rule, a vibrant patronage of art followed. Much of U Ba Nyan’s art provided the generic images for his students who studied under him at the University College of Yangon. The next generation of artists to continue the tradition included U Ba Zaw (1891-1943), U Ba Nyan Stairways to the Pagoda 28 x 38 cm Opaque watercolours Courtesy of Nay Myo Say U San Win (1904-1981) and U Khin Maung (1919-1999) who studied and exhibited abroad, as well as numerous noted artists like U Thein Han who studied exclusively under U Ba Nyan. Myanmar announced its independence in January 1948 after more than 120 years of British colonial rule. The National Museum of Myanmar was established in Yangon in 1952 to profile the nation’s culture and showcase both traditional and contemporary art. In the meantime the domestic situation of newly independent Myanmar was plunged into disorder resulting from internal conflicts within the government and rebellion from ethnic minorities. This ultimately led to the establishment of a military government in April 1962. With Myanmar’s unique socialist cocktail of Marxism and Buddhism in place and its back turned to the global village, its artists were facing U Thein Han Monsoon Season Oil on canvas 31 x 36 cm Courtesy of Maung Han Htut the new reality of an increasingly isolated society under economic and political pressure. Out of this contradiction, surprisingly art survived. Ironically, the Burma Art and Sculpture Council, subsequently renamed as the Artists and Artisans Organization in 1970, established

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Myanmar’s first private art gallery – the Lokanat Gallery in Yangon – in 1962 under the then military regime. It appeared that art was not framed by doctrinaire boundaries. Art institutions in Mandalay and Yangon flourished, as did the continuing master-student tradition. Myanmar’s contemporary artists are a small and tightly knit group. Despite the absence of affluent collectors and the benevolence of the public sector, artists continue to train and exhibit their works largely in the cluster of private galleries in Yangon and Mandalay. While it may commonly be assumed that Myanmar’s art is insular, the art itself relates a different story. In Myanmar the realization of the traditional pictorial tradition clearly indicates that beauty in art need not necessarily relate to idealization — beauty can be found in social realities. This reality has become the central issue in the discourse of Myanmar modernism. It is contained in its conservative societal values and moral connotations with honesty as more important than intellectualism in its formulation. This basis of art expression with its unique representation of “Eastern-ness” has been recognized in international art circles since the late 1980s when Myanmar artists started exhibiting abroad and, due to the economic boom of the decade that followed, flourished. In 1997, Myanmar became a member of ASEAN. With this association emerged promises of a stronger economy and a new awakening for Myanmar contemporary art. The following year artists were accorded guest status at the prestigious Phillip Morris competition that showcases the best of mid-career ASEAN artists. When Myanmar won the award in 2001, the judges’ report commended the morality and lyricism of the winning work of art. Myanmar contemporary art is enlightening and fresh. And the enthusiasm and tenacity of the artists are admirable. Although art has opened new directions for Myanmar, artists continue to be dedicated to traditional Buddhist principles — to seek visible pleasure in the most common everyday situations while representing their beauty with Western sophistication.

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SPIRIT AND COLOUR: THE ART OF U LUN GYWE
Shireen Naziree Art Historian and Independent Curator

Art echoes the connection an artist feels for his country and his people. Spiritually, art is the consciousness that becomes the artist’s most primary tool. It is consciousness that defines the proper place and origin of art – the contact and vision, which have the power to touch our deepest nature. As art remains in the museum of our minds, it engages us into a relationship of stillness and contemplation that sometimes stirs the emotion sufficiently to acknowledge the spiritual and physical dimensions of inspiration that become an artist’s realization. Within this sense of reverence and academic value of truth lies the artistic mantra that U Lun Gywe interprets on his canvases and that exemplifies his deep commitment to art. U Lun Gywe is one of Myanmar’s most accomplished senior artists whose artistic career has benefited from first-hand exposure to the artistic practices of some of Myanmar’s most important early masters. In turn, he has upheld that same legacy in a creative span of more than fifty years both as an artist and teacher. Although his accomplishments are vast, his entire body of work is unified by his sacred devotion to the principles of order, harmony, stability and grace — the spirituality that results from U Lun Gywe’s strong Buddhist beliefs. Buddhism also molded how U Lun Gywe viewed his life and artistic career. In his quest for self-awareness, he learnt about mindfulness and the need to be mentally in control of his emotions, especially in relation to his art. “I find inspiration in calmness. I cannot create a good painting when in an unsettled frame of mind. I often meditate before I start a painting.” This devotion continues to distil his unflagging imperative, evident in his canvases that spill with an ethereal armature of colours and brim with radiance in praise of life itself. Born in Yangon, Myanmar, on 24 October 1930, U Lun Gywe developed a strong interest in art on his own at a very young age. As an only child he was raised by his mother after his father died when he was five months old. Growing up, U Lun Gywe was very engaged in the observation of the world around him and spent much of his time drawing. Any spare pages and space in his schoolbooks were filled with visual narratives of the world around him. Through these drawings, he not only expressed his fascination with

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the visual beauty and serenity of his surroundings, but an appreciation of the spiritual environment — a reflection of the Buddhist faith, so important to the people of Myanmar. And throughout his formative years, his mother supported her son’s endeavours to become a creative person. U Lun Gywe graduated in 1954 from the Art Institute of Specialist Teachers’ Training in Yangon. He deems himself privileged to have studied under some of Myanmar’s most noted pioneer artists such as U Thet Win, U San Win, U Ngwe Gaing and U Chit Maung. While he mentions these names with pride, he attributes the late U Thein Han as being his greatest teacher and ultimately the most important influence in U Lun Gywe’s life and career. At art school U Lun Gywe learnt to paint by copying and mastering correct form that was encompassed in the conservative academic values typically taught during his era. Even at this early stage he was searching for his own visual vocabulary, although his ambition to become a full-time artist was still lingering on a distant horizon. However, an illustrious career as an art educator followed, one that would be instrumental for U Lun Gywe to realize his oeuvre. In 1956 he was appointed as an art instructor in the Art Department of the State School of Education. In 1958 he was transferred to the Ministry of Culture and became an instructor at the State School of Fine Arts in Yangon. He taught there until his retirement as principal of the school in 1979. Teaching was demanding: “I was required to teach everything from oils, watercolours as well as commercial art — my ambition to be an artist remained a dream.” In addition, he often had to do commercial painting to make ends meet, which left him little time to pursue his aspiration of becoming a painter. As a teacher U Lun Gywe discovered that not much had changed since his own student days. He was obliged to teach under the same banner of formalistic measurements of learning that he encountered as an art student. Nevertheless, his commitment to share his knowledge and impart his passion for art to his students was unrelenting. Despite the limitations of teaching, his career opened up opportunities that would introduce him to international art practices. He recognized the importance of gaining greater knowledge and exposure, which would contribute to the development of his own style of painting. In 1964 U Lun Gywe traveled to China on a yearlong cultural exchange programme at the Institute of Fine Art in Beijing. His residency in Beijing was a pivotal experience for him. And at the heart of this new experience, he immersed himself in the study of the Chinese aesthetic, which was endowed with an ancient yet practical wisdom. Through Chinese brush painting, he learnt new techniques in articulating his visual

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narrative. He related well to the Chinese philosophy of tapping on the subconscious “inner images.” U Lun Gywe remarked that “the way in which the Chinese approached art was completely different to the Western art disciplines that I had learnt. Unlike the occidental tradition of saving images in sketchbooks, they would instead absorb the nuances and details of subjects. They would then paint from memory. ” This discipline of using the mind’s eye, rather than a sketchbook, raised a new consciousness in him — one that would renew his communion with nature as an overwhelming ancient force. In effect, this educational experience was most valuable to him on his return to Myanmar. Although he never further pursued the Chinese art of brush and ink, he incorporated the techniques into his oils and watercolours. In 1971, U Lun Gywe received a scholarship to study conservation in East Germany. He traveled to East Berlin, Dresden and Potsdam, where for the first time he could study the works of the European masters – subjects that mirrored familiar aesthetic standards of the art he had studied and taught in Myanmar. “I felt such great joy to be able to study the technical applications of these original paintings. My deepest desire was to be able to create such works though I also knew that I wanted my paintings to reflect more movement. However, I related best to the paintings of the renowned European Impressionists. Though I found the Expressionist paintings interesting, Impressionism was fluid and fresh – it was a reflection of the inner self.” The year in East Germany was one of the most significant for U Lun Gywe. He found a correlation between the European art styles and his own artistic explorations. As an artist, he persisted for years in trying to capture the serenity of Impressionism. It had remained a lovely texture in his imagination until he could give it his own meaningful expression. Embracing the techniques and tones of Impressionism, he created his own distinct style, closely linked to his own Myanmar identity. “I consider Impressionism to be the most refined form of artistic expression – it allows me to represent my subject with my very own perception and emotion and encourages the viewer to indulge in it with his own meanings.” In effect, he started producing images that shaped his artistic identity – images that still resonate today. U Lun Gywe had come into his own. Revitalized, he once again turned towards his lifelong mentor, U Thein Han, in order to understand his changing perspective. Over the years the two artists had spent much time together, painting and discussing art as well as Buddhism. It was through this relationship with U Thein Han that U Lun Gywe started to examine the vital connection between abstract ideas and the essence of realism. Furthermore, it was through his magnetic and influential teacher that he first learnt about Impressionism. U Thein Han, himself a student of the great Myanmar master artist U Ban Nyan, was a

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man of deep conviction and creative talent. A highly acclaimed artist, U Thein Han had devoted himself to the belief that art can serve as a powerful tool in reinforcing the classical principles of order, stability, harmony and grace. As a teacher, U Thein Han encouraged his students to be diligent about the fundamentals of art, the nature of art, and to develop their own artistic feeling in order to succeed as artists. The subtle influence of U Thein Han became an ever-present factor in the life and work of U Lun Gywe. Even after his death in 1986, U Thein Han still remains the most important guidepost for U Lun Gywe. Today U Lun Gywe’s signature impressionist style paintings with their distinct Asian overtones reflect his ongoing participation in the vital currents of Myanmar’s art scene. U Lun Gywe’s early genre paintings of the 1960s illustrate the influence of the traditional style of painting that was typically taught in art school. However, a stylistic shift from the rigid interpretation of traditional themes in the artist’s work, depicting his interest in Impressionism, was already emerging. And as his art developed, the pastoral serenity of idyllic scenery endowed with Myanmar’s ancient history found full flower with his stronger and more fluid brushstrokes that infused a greater sense of movement and emotion. Since committing himself to painting full-time in 1979, U Lung Gywe, as an artist, has further refined his already fluid process during the ensuing years as he has become more prolific. His style continued to grow looser as his colours became richer, expressing a new energy. To know U Lun Gywe is to see him work. He is highly disciplined and reverent with urgency about his need to paint. He approaches each canvas with assurance and paints with confidence. The abundance of his intimate knowledge of art and his ability to humanize the dignity of his subjects fill his paintings. His work is not merely a representation of the physical forms of an idyllic past, but is rather an embodiment of that past and of his own personal history. Observing him paint, one can sense the rapid movement of the brush, which appears to have hardly left the canvas, on a rhythmic journey of shapes, shades and textures. The play of light is exquisite and creates a surface that is filled with motion – extending the painting beyond the boundaries of the canvas. One cannot help but be mesmerized by U Lun Gywe’s dexterity as a painter. He is highly respected as a portrait artist. Inspired by the moment, his images are tightly rendered with fidelity. His primacy as a painter is evident throughout his work, regardless of subject or manner of expression, which ranges from the formal academic style to a more modernized presentation. U Lun Gywe is a dominating presence in Myanmar art circles, the significance of which is no surprise. He continues to uphold the Myanmar tradition of the teacher-student relationship. His name is mentioned

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with respect in Myanmar, and he maintains close friendships with many of his former students, some of whom have become successful artists and art academics. Even though his influence is everywhere, U Lun Gywe remains a humble man. He continues to be mindful of the cultural backdrop of his past as well as the Buddhist spiritual values that have guided him to success and have contributed to an artistic legacy important to the Myanmar tradition.

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MYANMAR VISUAL ART: AN OVERVIEW
Sein Myo Myint Art Critic

The history of Myanmar’s visual art goes back to the Stone Age. One can see some works of art at Pyadarlinn Village, near Iwarngan in the southern part of the Shan State. These are the first Myanmar paintings we know of. The Pyu, Rakkhine and Mon cultures all flourished in the middle and southern parts of Myanmar at the beginning of the Christian era. There are traces showing that the people lived in large towns and villages. Ancient cities existed at Beikthano, Han Linn, Ta Gating, Tharay Khitara, Danyawaddy and Thuwanna Bommi. At the sites of shrines and places of habitation, archaeologists have excavated numerous cultural heritage objects, including utensils, pots, urns in graveyards, silver coins, sculptures, weapons, tablets, scriptures, gold plates and bronze plates, among other items. There were no paintings, perhaps because they are not easily preserved. In the era of Bagan, from the 10th to the late 11th centuries AD, mural paintings and frescos were produced in temples. During the same period, wooden plates, lacquer and fabrics were used as materials to paint on. Later on, during the Pinya, Innwa and Konebaung periods, Myanmar paintings appeared not only on the walls of temples and cave monasteries but also on written folded tablets in the late Konebaung era as well as in the lacquer arts of Bagan and on palm leaves. Paper came into use during the Amarapura and Yadanarbon periods. As Myanmar became involved in trade with foreign countries, Myanmar artists met foreign artists and exchanged methods and techniques. In the 18th and 19th centuries, both Myanmar and foreign artists were appointed to serve at the court, and the arts flourished. Kyaw Htin Nawyahtar, U Kyaw Nyunt,2 Saya Sar and Saya Chone were court artists. When Myanmar was occupied in 1885 by the British, Saya Cho, Saya Pon, Saya Mating Gyi, Saya Maung Hlaing, Saya The, Saya Thaung. Saya Ni, Saya Mya Gyi, Saya Myo and Saya Myint were all well-known artists. At a later stage,

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Common Myanmar titles include U = Mr, Saya = Teacher, Sayagyi = Master or Specialist, Daw = Mrs, Ko = Brother, Maung = Young Brother

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more artists emerged and gained recognition, such as U Tun Hla, U Ba Ohn, Saya Saung, U Ba Lon, U Ba Sein, Saya Hla, Saya Myint, U San Lwin, U Lun Kywai, U Tun Min, U Pho Ba, U Pho Leik and U Saw Maung. After 1885, Saya U Ba Zaw (b. 1891), Saya U Ba Lon (b. 1894), Saya U Ba Nyan (b. 1897) and Saya Saung (b. 1898) came into prominence. In 1920 those artists were in their early twenties. U Ba Lon was known for his illustrations in periodicals. Saya U Ba Nyan and Saya U Ba Zaw went abroad to study the visual arts and European-style painting. Saya Saung studied on his own by reading books and periodicals; he was also a student under the supervision of Saya U Maung Mating Gyi and Saya U Ba Zaw and later became a well-known artist. Saya U Ba Nyan imparted the methods of Western art in Myanmar for a considerable number of years. In the 1920s he paid two visits to Europe and lived there for eight years. He studied at England’s Royal College of Art and at the British artist Stephen Lat’s private Yellow Door Fine Arts School. He proceeded to France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark, painting, conducting exhibitions and even selling paintings to European museums. Although he could stand on his own as a “European” artist, he returned to Myanmar in 1930 and taught European-style painting to the new generation until his death in 1945. The second generation of painters who studied under Sayagyi U Ba Nyan were U Nywe Gaing, U Ba Kyi, U La Baw, U Thein Han, U San Win, U Myat Kyaw, U Ohn Lwin, U Aung Khin, U Thu Ka, U Aung Soe and U Kyaw Hlaing. In the 1930s, Myanmar’s art scene was active and dynamic. The followers of Saya U Ba Nyan became famous during the postwar period. The style and techniques of Western painting became more familiar to Myanmar artists, who developed more advanced painting skills. In the year 1930, when Sayagyi U Ba Nyan returned to Myanmar after living in various parts of Europe, a boy by the name of Maung Nyi Nyi alias Maung Lun Gywe was born in the lower part of Myanmar. His parents were U Ba Khaing and Daw Ohn Thwin. Young Maung Lun Gywe was not able to pursue an academic education. But while the war raged between 1942 and 1945, he attended a Buddhist monastic school and passed the 7th standard. While studying, he used to draw pictures on the backs of the schoolbooks. Later on, in 1945, he studied watercolour painting under Sayagyi U Chit Maung in Yangon. It was partly by chance that he came to pursue his interest in art and in becoming a professional artist. After passing the 7th standard, having a keen urge to work in the arts, Maung Lun Gywe earned a living by painting signboards, posters and advertisements. Although he was engaged in producing commercial art,

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he dreamed of making a career in the fine arts. In 1954-55 he had a chance to attend special arts teachers’ courses at the Teachers’ Training College in Kanbe, Yangon. There he met Saya U Thet Win, a lecturer and the head of the Art Department, who became a close associate. While studying at the Teachers’ Training College, he came to understand the principles of visual art under the instruction of Saya U Thet Win. In 1958, U Lun Gywe reached a turning point in his life. He got an opportunity to work as an arts instructor at the Yangon Arts and Sculpture School under the Ministry of Culture. He received advice and encouragement from Saya U Thet Win and filled the post in spite of keen competition. This transfer had a profound impact on him because he now had the opportunity to pursue further studies in fine art under Sayagyi U Ngwe Gaing and Sayagyi U Ohn Lwin. The most valuable opportunity was to meet Sayagyi U Thein Han (1910-1986), who was the acting director of the Yangon School of Fine Arts from 1958 to 1979. Sayagyi U Thein Han, once a student of Sayagyi U Ba Nyan, was an expert at colour. He had mastered painting techniques using oil, watercolours, poster colours and crayon. In addition to his duties at the State School of Fine Arts, Sayagyi U Thein Han put up many students at his home, providing them with meals and training. Among these students was U Lun Gywe. Although U Lun Gywe had experienced several other teachers such as U Chit Mating, U Thet Win, U Ngwe Gaing, and U San Win, U Thein Han was closest to him and provided his longest relationship. From Sayagyi U Thein Han, U Lun Gywe learned that art is not only about vision, but also about consciousness, emotion, technique, skill and aesthetics. U Lun Gywe was fortunate to receive an opportunity to go to China in 1964-65 and stayed for one year under a cultural exchange programme. He studied traditional Chinese brush painting as well as oil painting at the Beijing Central Fine Arts Academy. He also got a chance to study in East Germany in 1971 and carried out studies at art museums in Berlin, Dresden and Potsdam. He learnt restoration techniques and at the same time had the chance to admire works by European masters. In the field of commercial art, U Lun Gywe has created many posters, mural paintings in temples and pagodas, and illustrations for magazines and periodicals. These were produced when he served as an instructor at the State School of Fine Arts. During his time as an art instructor he participated in the Sarpaybeikhman Jubilee Hall arts exhibition and later various other exhibitions, even though teaching responsibilities took up most of his time.

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U Lun Gywe served as an art instructor and civil servant for twenty-three years until his retirement from the State School of Fine Arts in 1979. After retirement, he has had more time to engage in exploring and creating his own original and individual style of art and in being a full-time artist. At his first show at Sarpaybeikhman, most of his works were realistic in a classical style. But in 1987 I noticed that U Lun Gywe’s works had developed and moved towards his own vision of Impressionism. And in 1998 his style tended towards a form of dynamic Impressionism. The rapid brush strokes, choice of colours, and thoughts and ideas changed, developed and matured in accordance with his experience in life and art. In terms of quantity as well as quality, I was flabbergasted to find his works prolific and flawless. In 1999, U Lun Gywe established the Artist Life Art Gallery, where he paints in tranquil surroundings with his family around him. The development of visual art in Myanmar has included many artists, from the beginning led by Saya Chon, Saya U Ba Nyan, Saya U Ba Zaw and Saya Saung. The second period included Saya U Ngwe Gaing, U San Win, Saya U Thein Han and Saya U Ba Kyi. Up to the present, there have been just a few serious, full-time artists in Myanmar. U Lun Gywe is one of them and belongs to the third generation of artists. He is now 75 years old, but is still active and creating new and beautiful paintings.

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Chinese Still Life, 1964, 72 x 100 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

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Chinese Pots, 1964, 53 x 65 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

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River Boat, 1968, 51 x 61 cm

Oil on board

Private Collection

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Temple at the Seashore, 1968, 76 x 91 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

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Shwezigon Pagoda, Bagan 1969, 39 x 50 cm

Oil on board

Collection of the Artist

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Returning Home, 1970, 34 x 125 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the National Museum, Myanmar

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Dhammayangyi Temple, Bagan 1973, 35 x 38 cm

Watercolours on paper

Collection of the Artist

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On the Bank of Ayeyawaddy River, 1973, 35 x 38 cm

Watercolours on paper

Collection of the Artist

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Thanaka for Beauty, 1978, 29 x 39 cm

Watercolours on paper

Private Collection

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A Pilgrim Camp, 1979, 60 x 80 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the National Museum, Myanmar

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Strength of an Elephant, 1982, 59 x 89 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

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U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Festival at the Ananda Temple, Bagan, 1996, 76 x 106 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

39

Portrait of Saya Maung, 1986, 85 x 154 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Working the Fields, 1987, 81 x 101 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

32

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Peaceful Mind, 1991, 56 x 61 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Portrait of U Ngwe Gaing, 1992, 41 x 46 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

34

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Potter, 1994, 30 x 45 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

35

Lisu Girl, 1994, 36 x 46 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

36

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Myanmar Marionettes, 1995, 39 x 52 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

37

Resting Horse Carts, 1995, 56 x 61 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

38

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Solo Dancer, 1996, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

40

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Two Dancers, 1996, 76 x 91 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Kindness to Birds at the Shwedagon Pagoda, 1996, 76 x 91 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

42

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Artist and his Model, 1997, 56 x 76 cm

Watercolours on paper

Collection of the National Art Gallery, Malaysia

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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My Benefactor (U Thein Han), 1998, 76 x 91 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the artist

44

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Life Begins, 1998, 75 x 92 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the National Museum, Myanmar

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Shepherds and Goats, 1998, 76 x 106 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

46

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Gossip, 1998, 45 x 60 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Dancing Trees Under the Moonlight, 1998, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

48

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Pagoda Entrance, 1998, 38 x 38 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

49

Shwedagon Pagoda by Night, 1999, 95 x 120 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the National Museum, Myanmar

50

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

At the Platform of Shwedagon Pagoda, 1999, 91 x 105 cm Collection of the National Art Gallery, Malaysia

Oil on canvas

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

51

The Beauty of a Dancer, 1999, 91 x 121 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

52

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Self Portrait, 1999, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Rough Waves, 2000, 33 x 49 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

54

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

The Walls of Mandalay Palace, 2000, 36 x 46 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

55

Blue Rain, 2000, 58 x 61 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

56

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Blooming Flame Trees, 2000, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

57

Myanmar Beauty, 2000, 29 x 35 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

58

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Myanmar Beauty, 2000, 36 x 57 cm

Pastel on paper

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Ferry Boats, 2000, 38 x 56 cm

Charcoal on paper

Collection of the National Art Gallery, Malaysia

60

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Rainy Season, 2000, 37 x 50 cm

Watercolours on paper

Collection of the National Museum, Myanmar

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Two Ladies Fetching Water, 2001, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

62

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Fetching Water, 2001, 76 x 105 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the National Art Gallery, Malaysia

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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The Poetry of Music, 2001, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

64

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

A Resting Beauty, 2002, 68 x 69 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Nude, 2002, 30 x 61 cm

Oil on canvas

Collection of the Artist

66

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Yellow Roses, 2002, 36 x 46 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Flame Trees in Rain, 2003, 36 x 56 cm

Watercolours on paper

Thavibu Gallery

68

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Temple Festival, 2003, 52 x 74 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Two Ladies in Green, 2003, 52 x 62 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

70

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Lotus Ladies, 2003, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Beauty on the Beach, 2003, 30 x 60 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

72

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Bathing Beauty, 2003, 45 x 60 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Shan Market, 2003, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

74

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

The Flower Vendor, 2004, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Boats at Night, 2004, 90 x 120 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

76

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Bathing at the Well, 2004, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Playing on the Beach, 2004, 60 x 75 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

78

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

Horse Carts on a Rainy Evening, 2004, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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Beach Beauties, 2004, 68 x 68 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

80

U L U N G Y W E A M A S T E R PA I N T E R F R O M M YA N M A R

The Seven Angels, 2004, 120 x 180 cm

Oil on canvas

Thavibu Gallery

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CHRONOLOGY

U Lun Gywe Born 1930

Education and Training
Graduated from the Art Institute of Specialist Teachers’ Training, Myanmar, 1954 Graduated with distinction in Eastern Art from the Institute of Fine Art, Beijing, China, 1964 Studied art restoration in East Germany, 1971 Studied under art masters U Thet Win, U Chit Maung, U San Win, U Thein Han and U Ngwe Gaing

Teaching and Administrative Positions
Art Instructor at the State School of Education, Yangon, 1956 - 1958

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Instructor at the State School of Fine Arts, Yangon, 1958 - 1979 Acting Principal at the State School of Fine Arts, Yangon, 1977 Founder of the Golden Valley Art Centre jointly with U Myint Lwin (Peter), 1987 - 1999 Founder of the Artist Life Art Gallery, 1999 - present

Selected Art Exhibitions
(Due to the isolation of the country, it has generally been difficult for artists to show their works abroad.) Myanmar [Burma]: several group and solo exhibitions, including a solo show at the National Museum, 2000 China: 1964 Japan: 1985 Korea: 1989 USA: 1990 Australia: 1990, 1991, 1992 Singapore: 1995, 2000; solo show at Emerald Hill Studio, 2004 Thailand: Burmese Master Paintings, jointly with Aung Kyaw Htet at Thavibu Gallery, 2004 U Lun Gywe - A Retrospective, solo show at Thavibu Gallery, 2005

Museum Collections
National Museum, Myanmar National Art Gallery, Malaysia

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www.thavibu.com
The Silom Galleria, 3rd Floor Suite 308, 919/1 Silom rd., Bangkok 10500, Thailand Tel. (662) 266 5454, Fax. (662) 266 5455 E-mail. info@thavibu.com
U LUN GYWE A MASTER PAINTER FROM MYANMAR

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