Kyaw Soe (Burma)
Kyaw Soe was born in a village in central Myanmar in 1955. He graduated from university with a degree in Zoology and joined the government service in the Department of Fisheries. But this career was secondary; Kyaw Soe’s dream always was to be a professional artist, and he took part time courses at the State School of Fine Art to learn the basics. He was able also to study under Paw Thein, a renowned older artist, who now resides in New York.
He achieved the first part of his dream in 1981, setting up as a commercial artist, producing illustrations for books and posters, painting billboards for cinema and singers. After two years, he progressed again – this time to fine art, producing paintings which he was able to exhibit and sell. At this time, he was painting landscapes, enjoying depicting scenes that pleased him in a realistic manner.
In 1996, Kyaw Soe exhibited abroad for the first time with a solo show in Singapore in the World Trade Center. After this, his art practice evolved, moving away from realism, to semi-abstract with a focus on cubism. He worked on this new style for two years, before he was satisfied and felt able to show the artwork to the public. The positive reaction to this dramatically different style gave him the confidence to continue to develop the themes and subjects that were now absorbing him.
Kyaw Soe says that he wants to make people look at familiar things in a new way, that stimulates their thinking onto broader themes, such as resurrection, new life, growth and development. In the humble bamboo, seen everywhere in Myanmar, he sees a world of possibility for depicting these subjects.
For many works he prefers a limited color palette, so there is no distraction from the cubist forms he favors. But recently, he was transfixed by seeing stained glass in one of the pagodas on Mandalay Hill, and he started experimenting with these jewel-like colors, in a mosaic effect, transposed onto bamboos and flowers.
After many years of working with acrylic because of the convenience of its fast drying properties in a humid climate, he became dissatisfied with the limitations of the medium. He has now reverted to oils, which allow him greater flexibility with colors, tone and intensity.Click here to view the artist's biography