Min Wae Aung
Danubyu, Myanmar 1960


Faces are rarely shown, because Min Was Aung likes to emphasise the monks' movement, and he says their anonymity helps convey how they are "leaving humanity behind" and going to "a peaceful place, like Nirvana".


Min Wae Aung was born in Danubyu in 1960. His father transported goods for a living and Aung spent large parts of his childhood playing at the local monastery where he befriended the novice monks and helped the older monks with their duties. 


In 1982 he began to study traditional landscape and portrait painting at the State School of Fine Arts in Rangoon. Whilst Aung studied traditional styles of art, his work as a commercial graphic artist and a visit to New York in 1993 inspired him to depict his subjects in a more contemporary style. 


Many of his paintings depict the monks and nuns he has seen in Myanmar over the years going about their simple daily lives. Aung manages to reflect the essence of Burmese's with its spiritual and mythical dimensions. The composition of the paintings uses brightly coloured backgrounds which help the viewer to focus on the energy of the figures and the motion of their clothing as they move through the space. The outlines of the figures are completed in black to further enhance the focus. 


Contemplating his works can leave the viewer feeling calm and peaceful.  Aung generally paints his figure from behind and rarely shows the front of the face or the profile view. Aung enjoys the mystery that painting the figures from behind creates. His paintings concentrate on both the shape of each individual as well as the shapes they make as a group. By concentrating on the shape of the group he is also able to embody the power that comes from people grouping together for a common cause, be that framing issues, family disputes or political turmoil.  


Aung's latest set of works has seen him travel through Myanmar to depict the everyday person going about their way of life and managing another day of the political turmoil that has affected the country for so long. The subjects are seen enjoying the simplicity and beauty of the world around them. Aung is perhaps the most famous living artist in Myanmar and after finding his success as an artist he has also become a collector, assembling a collection of artworks mainly by local Burmese artists that inspire him.