ARTIST: SAN MINN
San Minn (b. 1951, Myanmar) majored in Biology at Rangoon Art and Science University, when he started painting under several eminent painters U Nyunt Tin, U Ba Lon Lay, U Lun Gywe, U Thu Kha and U Nann Waii. A founder of Gangaw Village and Inya Gallery, both artist operatives, he has been an important supporter of modern art development in Yangon, organising and exhibiting in more than 100 shows. Internationally he has exhibited at ‘Omnibus’, Gallery Voice, Kyoto (1995), “Oriental Curtain”, Cologne and Helsinki (1999 and 2001), “The End of Growth”, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Bangkok (2001), “Myanmar Contemporary Art”, Chiangmai University, Chiangmai, and “Freedom in Blossom”, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2012). He was artist-in-residence at NIFKA, Helsinki (2006).
CATCHING UP WITH: SAN MINN
With decades of military rule giving way to democratic reform, what is your view on the current arts scene in Myanmar?
In Myanmar, we get a little more freedom now than before. The current arts scene is slowly changing. Censorship might slowly be stripped down, but I am still cautious and apprehensive of the situation.
Tell us about your “ Weapons” Series- talk us through the conceptualisation and process.
I have done 3 solo shows of my “Guns” series. I got the inspiration from American artist James Rosenquist’s old catalogue in 1992.
I also started to collect data by procuring books from street stalls about guns. After much research, I created some gun paintings and tested reactions in various group shows. The censorship board would allow me to exhibit my Gun series at times, and other times they wouldn’t. It was the only way to repeatedly try and show my works in public.
Tell us how you fell in love with art and what your biggest challenge has been in the last 30 years of being an artist?
I fell in love with art when I was a child. But growing up during the socialist period in Burma was extremely challenging. I underwent many bitter and painful experiences in the last 30 years as an artist- especially with censorship and poverty. It has also been difficult especially with the scarcity of art materials and a space for me to paint, but I have adjusted accordingly.
Tell us about your next series? What can we expect to see?
My next series is the “Prison Series”. It illustrates what life would be like as a prisoner in jail and an experience that resonates with my own experience in jail.