An AbEx artist through and through, Soe Naing uses both oil and acrylic, to present ဗလာအလြတ္ or “Nothing but Blank.” This exhibition is, as Soe Naing tells me, something he always wanted to do.

For Soe Naing, a painting isn’t complete until the viewer responds to it. As obvious as it is, a lot of people still asks him: “What does it mean?”

“Absolutely nothing!”

he addresses the issue with a cheerful tone.

Soe Naing approaches the canvas with a blank mind – his ‘madness’ guides him through an unconditional way of painting bold stroke; most of which are so sombre, it dulls out the brightness of other brighter tones. A lattice-like layer that envelops and contains the bright burning hues underneath.

“Nat Kadaw”

A work of his that deserves attention would be Nat Kadaw (a Nat’s wife). In it, an almost psychotic full-body portrait of Nat dancer – ambiguous in sex – strikes a pose. The body, true to the artist’s AbEx style, doesn’t have that much figure or anatomy. However, the face of the Nat Kadaw was full of emotion. Neither excited nor happy, it’s almost an even more melancholy alternative of some of Max Beckmann’s works – in subject matter, not style or technique. Colour-wise, Soe Naing has chosen to lay the background with countless layers of low viscosity dirty maroon that brings out the brighter Emerald green, which in turn helps the figure have some perspective and depth – even in a painting like this.

This is one of the very few semi-abstract pieces in today’s exhibition. When asked whether he prefers semi-abstract or just purely abstract, he simply said, “The semi-abstract pieces sell better.” In a country where the abstract or anything similar doesn’t attract buyers’ or just ‘simply don’t sell,’ Soe Naing finds it difficult to express the truest form of his art. Nevertheless, with the contemporary becoming more valued, things are bright for the future.

The exhibition has launched from today till the 7th of September at Lokanat Galleries. The artist is a very open and humble person, so a conversation is strongly recommended.

Lokanat Galleries – No.62, Corner of Merchant Street and Pansodan Street, Kyauktada Township, Yangon


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