In the spacious Myanm/art Gallery where Aung Myat Htay’s new exhibition is featured, MYANMORE sits down with him to grasp an in-depth view of his intentions and ideas.
There are a lot of definitions of ‘Reality.’ From Durer’s photorealistic hare to Millet’s depictions of the peasantry, there is no set meaning on what ‘realism’ is. Aung Myat Htay’s works need to be distinguished from “realism” as a term to describe the very precise to a revolt against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism and drama. His theme varies throughout graphically altered pictures to an impressionist collection of painted canvases, all of which speaks for itself.
He explains, “This exhibition is intended to examine the roots of the local community through its psychosocial characteristic features. Every group of people raised in the same land has a diverse mix of native and migratory species. To reconsider these realities, it comes to the perception of visual hybridity”. Furthermore, Myanmar is a country where the population is made up of many immigrants and the native ethnic people coexisting. After reading old history books where the main focus was on the different monarchs: when they were crowned and when they left the throne. These books inspired him to re-trace Myanmar’s ethnic identity how it would look like a thousand years ago.
The Queen of Deer, a photographic manipulation of a woman dressed in royal attire with a deer’s head — a photo collage of vintage pictures of Burmese people, nature, and candid street photography, and the focal point of the piece is the character made by a double exposure of the deer head and the woman’s body is to tell the story of the first monarch of Myanmar.
Folklore suggests a deer conceived a child by digesting the urine of a hero-turned monk. The child, later on, became the king with his mother, the Queen who was a deer. Human beings and animals, they exist in two different realities and this story, according to the artist, creates a joint-reality which in turn creates a different alternate reality.
While I might not sum up this exhibition perfectly, I believe that this is what the artist is planning to achieve; to let the public know about our identity and how we came to be. This is Aung Myat Htay’s second show, with his first show The Segments first featured in Myanm/art back in 2016, is no doubt an excellent show with a unique standpoint toward diversity in this country.
Photos by Zwe Wint Htet