A magician of painting styles – M.P.P. Yie Myint

M.P.P. Yie Myint

Written by Maki Itasaka / Translated by AURA ART


There are no painters who are pursuing a variety of themes using a variety of methods, as M.P.P. Yie Myint does.

His painting style changes one after another depending on the theme

In November 2018, Yie Myint held an exhibition called the "Happy Disease's II " in Yangon. It is a series of repeated drawings of geometric motifs in two colors or one color on a score of canvas, which has been continuing since 2018.

  • "Happy Disease's II" Exhibition

  • Happy Disease's II
    162×111 cm

Yie Myint explains the theme of this series: "Happiness and misfortune are just like two sides of the same coin. Even if you are ill, you can be happy depending on your way of thinking, and if you are healthy you still can be unhappy. What you feel when you see on these pictures is a matter of wisdom about your way of life."

He contributed one of his "Myanmar Ladies" series, which he has been continuing for about 10 years, at a charity exhibition held around the same time of his exhibition. The cloth used for the ethnic costume is made into a canvas, and a classical style woman finished in watercolor painting style drawn on a small handmade paper and posted on the canvas.

  • "Myanmar Ladies"

Though these paintings are so different that it is unbelievable that they were created by the same artist, he also creates many other paintings such as “Van Gogh, Going to Bagan”, which depicts Bagan ruins at the touch of Van Gogh, and a series of abstract paintings which are reminiscent of Mondrian’s works. Why does he keep changing his touch and styles on his works so often?

To the cinema and to the prison

M.P.P. Yie Myint was born in Min Jang, a local city near Mandalay, in 1953. His first obsession was with movie posters in his first year of junior high school. So when I went to study painting was Wyn Pe, an expert in color theory, and when he went on to study at an art school, his teacher was an artist whose name was Wyn Pe, had the same name as his first guru, oddly enough. Later, Yie Myint took the acronym of his respected two teachers and a respected mother (same sounds in Burmese, "mar") onto his nickname and began to call herself M.P.P. Yie Myint. Yie Myint is also a common name in Myanmar so he wanted to make a difference with other painters of the same name.

In 1970, when he was in art school, his master at college, Wyn Pe, who was the banner of modern art, was alienated by the authorities and expelled from school. When Yie Myint also left college following him, he started helping Wyn Pe, who was also a movie director, to make films.
Yet, in 1974, he was imprisoned by being involved with the U Thant Funeral Crisis (*). His life in prison continued until 1979. However, this turned out to be a turning point for him, and after his release in 1979, he began to move into and out of the community of modern artists in Yangon, which finally led to his work being appreciated overseas.

* The incident in which a group of students clashed with the military police over the return of the dead body of U Thant, who served as UN Secretary-General.

  • "Cancer 1"

  • "Cancer 3"

The various painting style comes one after another depending on the theme

Many of the artists who were imprisoned often changed their style into more politicized after their release, and he was no exception. What is a little different for him is that such politicized style was only one side of his style. Since then, his paintings became more diverse, and the more materials and techniques used, such as paper and paints.

For example, Happy Disease's II, introduced at the outset, is a one-color painting with no concrete features. "After the impressionists, the painters of the impression paintings say that it is impossible to draw a picture with only one color of paint, so I did draw this with only one color." He grinned. If the raison d'etre of contemporary art lies in the destruction and re-presentation of existing art, he is indeed a practitioner of it.

  • The works depicting the animism were purchased mainly by overseas art museums.

Which comes first, the theme, or the painting style?

However, a question suddenly came up with me when I saw him explaining his ingenuity gladly. “Isn’t your original purpose of such various styles was to play with the various thickness of the paint and the patterns on your art works, and the theme is just ad hoc explanation?” It might be a little rude question, but his answer somehow sounded so happy: "Oh, do you see?"

So, I also wondered whether if he simply wanted to draw a classic-style woman on pieces of handmade paper as a motivation for the creation of “Myanmar Ladies”, which he denied. Themes expressing respect for women and their mysteries came first, and the style was the result of exploring the appropriate materials and drawing methods, as he said.

Comprehensibility is important when you wish to appeal to the world

On the other hand, his recent series of "Bagan's Cancer" is a complete representational painting which is unusual for him in recent years. Why did he used representational style for this series only, which to portray his worries to Bagan, an ancient city became a UNESCO World Heritage site and where he has lived for more than 20 years, but has being "destroyed" every year? His answer to this question is also clear. "Paintings containing political and social messages should be straight expressions that anyone can understand.”

  • Bagan Cancer
    116cm ×91cm

  • Bagan Cancer
    116cm ×91cm

I was surprised when I visited his atelier in Bagan the other day. He has been creating several of the “big” works which canvas size of more than 100F at the same time. As he continues in the representation painting, then he changes his mood with painting some abstract works, and sometimes he tries entirely new techniques on the new canvas.

Yie Myint continually pursues something and advances his brush with ferocious momentum as if he is driven by an impulse. He really loves painting from the bottom of his soul. He is desperate to explore how he can express his minds that is about to explode. And paintings, as well, must have chosen him who is fascinated by art. I felt like I had a glimpse of the happy relationship between art and an artist.

  • Living room of his home, filled with paintings of his family and his teacher

  • His atelier in Bagan, proceeding many paintings at the same time

Editor: Maki Itasaka