Yangon: Art in Myanmar

Artist: Aung Kyaw Hein. Photo by Marguerita Tan

When in Yangon: Do check out the local art galleries, either in government-managed museums or privately-owned chains, as there are much beautiful works to be admired by Myanmar artists.

Last November, my travel party and I had plan to do some serious shopping at the popular Bogyoke Aung Sang Market in the city centre during the limited time we had in the Myanmar capital. For the art lovers among us, however, the moment we stepped into Taw Win Art Gallery, it was the only place we wanted to spend time in!

Artist: Ngwe Phyoe, who uses a drip paint technique.
Photo by Marguerita Tan

The two-storey shop showcased some of the most striking paintings I’ve ever seen, majority of which are oil or acrylic on canvas, and primarily by Myanmar artists.

Artist: Moe Myint Zaw. Photo by Marguerita Tan

And for such eye-catching and eye-pleasing original pieces–most have the artist’s signature at the bottom of the paintings–the prices are incredibly affordable: small-sized paintings start from USD60 to large poster-sized pieces which could cost as much as USD4,000 such as the one pictured above by Moe Myint Zaw, renowned for his series of scarf-clad women from the Pa Oh tribe in Shan province.

Artist: Hyat Myint. Photo by Marguerita Tan

It was fascinating, though not surprising, to see that my friends and I are attracted to different looks and styles. A warm-colored painting by Hyat Myint–whose paintings often feature tiny human figures inbetween housing structures on stilts–had me at hello. But knowing that I have limited wall space at home, I somewhat reluctantly settled on a smaller version (pictured above) which has the more or less the same concept but with a stronger mix of cool and warm tones. After bargaining–‘cos we are Singaporeans–I got it for USD90 and it is now sparking much joy off my living room wall.

Artist: Lu Yaung Saung. Photo by Marguerita Tan

Mindful of not making drastic buys, we actually went off to see the rest of the market first before deciding on making a purchase but every art gallery we saw seem to be part of the same Taw Win chain! It was at a store on the ground level where my friend was keen on this absorbing Renoir-like street scene by Lu Yaung Saung pictured above.

After much deliberation, we went back to the first outlet (which is on the second floor) to make my purchase and the manager kindly brought this painting up for my pal to compare with other variations of the same theme by the artist. And good thing too ‘cos one version that we saw “upstairs” turned out to be more endearing in retrospect and my friend ended up buying that!

Photo by Marguerita Tan.

So, buying my first artpiece was definitely the most memorable moment for me whilst in Yangon, Myanmar for the first time. If you love art, especially Asian art, do eke out some time for visits to art museums and private art galleries in Yangon if you planning a trip to the Land of the Golden Pagodas.

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s permission.

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