Q&A: Owner of Trish Gallery Patricia Pun

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Patricia Pun with her art collection. (Rasmus Steijner)

Marvels abound in the two-floored Trish Gallery; jade meticulously cut into fish scales fixed onto an ever-cool century-old teak bed; glass tables supported by dozens of small marble elephants from Mandalay; colonial-era coins blasted into dressers and tables.

But the founder, Patricia Pun, does not limit the space to creative furniture renovations. Some of the greatest Myanmar artists have been showcased in the Yangon gallery since its opening in 2010, and Pun, an avid art collector, is keen to promote young artists, as her history attests.

An India-born ethnic Chinese, Pun is the sister of tycoon Serge Pun and was raised in Myanmar before leaving for Hong Kong in the late 1960s and returning in the 1990s. She speaks with Lorcan Lovett about the Myanmar art scene and her plan to support the next wave of Myanmar artists. Photo by Rasmus Steijner.

What is your background?

My professional background is in Human Resources for international companies such as International Computers (Hong Kong) Ltd., Joseph E. Seagram & Sons (Far East) Ltd., and then Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar) Limited until my retirement.

Does your whole family take an interest in art or is it just you?

My siblings are also private collectors but they have not ventured into it with the intention of doing it as a business. My children are also art oriented and collect art.

What made you decide to open an art gallery?

As my collections grew, I decided to expand it into a semi-business venture to support my continued interest in collecting art, especially Myanmar Art.

Tell me about your collections.

My collections consist of works of top artists plus works of young and upcoming artists who are not known in the art world, both locally and internationally. My preference is on realism and landscaping. Artist Nann Nann has created many of the beautiful pieces displayed in the gallery.

Many galleries have opened in Yangon over recent years. What changes have you seen in the art scene in Myanmar over the last decade? And what makes your gallery unique?

The art scene in Myanmar has changed dramatically in recent years. Artists are now able to express their talents and feelings onto canvas without major restrictions. And they’re able to show their works in foreign countries, which they were not able to do before.

Has becoming involved in the business side of things affected your love for art?

My love for art has not been affected by setting up Trish Gallery. In fact, it has provided me with a place to meet artists and educate collectors about Myanmar art.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced when establishing an art gallery in Myanmar?

My biggest challenge in establishing Trish Gallery has been to introduce Myanmar art to the world.

Do you have a favorite painting?

Yes. I purchased my favorite painting when I was 17 from the late U San Pe from the Shan states. It depicts a portrait of the face of an ethnic Padaung lady with very prominent features displaying her beauty. 

Who are your top three Myanmar artists of all time—both past and present?

Bogie, Tin Maung Oo and Kyee Myint Saw. Bogie is known for his modern abstract work, using his own secret medium to depict the unique difference of his artworks from other artists. Tin Maung Oo’s work is semi abstract with a touch of realism in his multi-color paintings of Buddhist temples and monasteries. And Kyee Myint Saw specializes in describing night scenes of hawker stalls, marketplaces and other scenes during rainy season. All three are still alive and producing artwork.

How healthy is the contemporary arts scene in Myanmar compared to more traditional art?

Both are equally in demand and popular with art collectors in Myanmar.

What makes your gallery unique?

Trish Gallery offers a very friendly and cozy gathering for both foreigners and local art lovers during their visit. I think that is an important element in sharing art.

What is next for Trish Gallery?

Trish Gallery will continue to support existing artists plus young and upcoming talent. We hope to promote and hold events that can bring artists and collectors together.

Trish Gallery is on Min Kyaung Street in Dagon Township, Yangon, and opens from Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm. Visit trishgallery.com.

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