Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Su Htwe Aung: Hands that rock the cradle rule the world

When we talk about the vital commodities for an artist, a space where he or she can hang and show the adored artworks should be spoken as well. The numbers of art galleries and spaces have been emerging with significant rate lately and it is to be considered as a great opportunity for all the artists. Khin Wathan Oo sat down with Su Htwe Aung, founder of Kalasa Artspace in 34 th street, to know better about the gallery business.

Su Htwe Aung is a mother and a language instructor. She worked as a teacher for kids from the international schools in the old days but when she got blessed with her son, she started opening the art and language space at her home and named Kalasa. Her past experience as a curator at a famous art gallery also aided her alone on the journey.

She further explained about how she came up with the name “Kalasa” as follow: “I was a person who hustled so much when I was younger but as I got married with an artist and later blessed with my son, I had to stay at home and that was the initial phase of me getting into the art business deeper than before. Kalasa, originated from Hindu, is a figure of metal pot that you can easily find at the pagodas, looks like the pregnant lady (mother’s womb), meaning prosperity or to be prospered. Since I was carrying my baby back then and I found this word was meant for me.”

“I named this place as Artspace because I do not want this to be unduly business-like
environment but as a place that is comfortable and welcoming for all artists.” Su mentioned.
Kalasa Artspace has two parts of business activities, namely art collections from the seven key artists and the art space (renting) for the artists who want to hold the exhibitions. You can also encounter a variety of workshops and symposiums at Kalasa Artspace.

“There were two workshop that encouraged me to carry on with this (holding workshops). One was held by my husband who is a painter and another French textile artist. Her artworks look similar to Myanmar’s traditional tapestry, but the artworks represent free mindset and
continuous/sequential processes. It was the first of its kind in Myanmar and I was inspired by
the creativity. That heartened me to carry on with the workshop activities.”

Su also mentioned another prompting workshop carried by the youths, “Another one, by the
passionate youths from India and the US, was titled as ‘Unconscious work’ and their belief
triggered me”. It was fulfilled under the belief of “everyone is an artist”, they stimulated the inner artists that everyone has and let them out by executing art.

As Su has been in the art business for more than 5 years, she shared her opinion upon the
market as well. “I think it has to be observed in two different standpoints. It has ameliorated and better than ever in terms of productivity and the passion in the market. And, also in level of appreciation for the art and artists as well. That is one way to see it”, she smiled. “But everything has downside and, in this scenario, the bright side I mentioned earlier also functions as a downside. Back in the days with heavy sanctions, the foreigners came here through difficulties just to get the artwork they admire and pay the price but nowadays the sanctions have been lifted to the extent and there are a lot of choices. Thus, the market shares the limited demand. So, I can’t really say the art market is doing good in business wise.”

At Kalasa Artspace, not only you can enjoy the art works of various artists, but also you can go back in time and experience the collections of ancient pottery/ vessels, books and many other handicrafts. Since the location is peak for the tourists, the place is usually visited by many foreigners.

I, myself, got to experience the amazing artworks, as well as the collections by Su. By the end of the interview with her, I got to hear her expectations for the art market and her beliefs as well.

“As I mentioned earlier, I want this place to be a home for the artists and for those who love arts. A place where they can feel comfortable. Right now, my resources are limited and there are a lot I want to do. Most importantly, I want to host more sharing sessions. sessions. I believe that art, itself is about sharing. People who got touched by the art of sharing have tenderness in their heart. A person with art can never go wrong”, she shared her opinion lightheartedly.

I am touched by the belief and passion she has for art and generosity for those in the industry. I couldn’t feel less love and the contentment was unvaried on my way back to her.

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