Than Kyaw Htay is a renowned contemporary artist in Myanmar, recognized for his works that embody both artistic and cultural values. He reflects the problems faced by the Rakhine people in their social lives, particularly regarding water, and presents the perspectives of Myanmar’s society and people through his paintings. Than Kyaw Htay has received recognition from the Association for Myanmar Contemporary Arts (AMCA), and was awarded the Honored Artist Award 2022 from the six nations of the Mekong sub-region.
Biography and Works
Than Kyaw Htay was born on July 9, 1978, in Rakhine State, a region in Myanmar that borders Bangladesh and India and has cultural ties to both countries. Rakhine people are also known as Arakan. Than Kyaw Htay has a deep love and appreciation for the Rakhine culture and has been interested in painting since childhood. He learned the art of painting from a local craftsman and lived in Rakhine until he was 20 years old, before moving to Rangoon in 1991. He attended art classes in university between 1997-2000 and became a full-time artist. He sends his art to galleries in Yangon and is a member of the Myanmar Contemporary Artists Group. His first solo exhibition in 2004 made him even more famous. In his early works, he showcased the beauty of light and color in nature.
In 2014, Than Kyaw Htay returned to Rakhine State and the situation had changed dramatically. He drew a series of paintings that reflected the Rakhine way of life in relation to water, which created a great reputation for him and earned him recognition as a Myanmar artist. He was invited to exhibit his work abroad, both in Asia and Europe. This series of paintings marked an important turning point in Than Kyaw Htay’s artistic journey. His art style has evolved over time, and he now uses more colors to reflect his inner feelings.
In 2006, he exhibited a solo series “Ladies in Color”, which depicted the colorful lives of Burmese women. In 2007, he traveled to Shan State, where he was impressed by the Pa-O people’s culture and dressed in colorful turbans. This led him to study their way of life, and he painted a series of the minority tribes to show the conflict they faced in Myanmar and the hardships they faced in tribal society. Despite this, he used bright colors to showcase their strength and resilience.
In 2011, Than Kyaw Htay held a solo exhibition “The Vital” in Yangon. He was inspired by the sight of women collecting water during the scorching sun and named the set of paintings “The Vital” to symbolize the importance of water as a vital element for all living things. He believes that there is a Burmese proverb that says “Humans cannot survive a single morning without water.” In his paintings, Than Kyaw Htay explores the relationship between man and water, water and life, and the role of art in depicting these themes.
In conclusion, Than Kyaw Htay is a talented and inspiring artist who presents the cultural and social perspectives of Myanmar through his paintings. His works embody beauty, compassion, and a deep understanding of the human condition, earning him recognition as a Honored Artist Award winner.