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Soe Naing, Burmese Artist

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Thanks to the 2011 Brighton Festival which has positioned Burma as a central point of focus, the people of Brighton and visitors alike are currently being offered a wonderful insight in to Burma– its culture, people and politics. Within this context I would like to highlight some works of art by a Burmese artist called Soe Naing, whose art expresses the very spirit of Burma.

The World Art collection at Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove includes a small but vibrant collection of Soe Naing’s drawings, paintings and papercuts all of which express his creativity and energy. His paintings are populated by strange and often sinister creatures which appear to incorporate both human and animal forms. These oddly hybrid creatures were inspired by mythological creatures seen by the artist in temple wall paintings in the ancient city of Bagan, but in my opinion, the style in which they are painted gives them an almost child-like innocence.


Soe Naing’s use of vivid colours and visible brushstrokes invest his paintings with a real sense of energy and spontaneity. Amongst these brightly-coloured brushstrokes he also creates inky, black, calligraphic marks which give the impression of facial features, claws, ears, talons and tongues. Along with colour you can see that the expressive quality of line is important to Soe Naing. Every brushstroke is applied with a sense of urgency and this is also the case with his pencil drawings. These appear to have been made impulsively as if the artist were drawing automatically, without considered planning.

I absolutely love Soe Naing’s work because his style is so unique, full of energy, and has a childlike quality to it which gives it such originality.

Royal Pavilion & Museums is grateful for the assistance of Networking & Initiatives for Culture & the Arts (NICA) in acquiring these works.

Sarah Cook World Art volunteer