Phyoe Kyi: The White Cloth

Phyoe Kyi is a tremendously talented artist living and working in Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar. Not being based in Yangon means that his practice is less known to those familiar with the Yangon art scene, however he is well known outside of Myanmar, having exhibited in Thailand, Germany, Singapore, Japan, and Bangladesh. He attended the University of Art and Culture in Yangon in 1997, and many of his contemporaries from that time period have become well known locally and internationally (Tun Win Aung, Wah Nu, Aung Myat Htay, The Maw Naing).

He is a graphic designer, screen-printer, installation and performance artist. He founded the Mingun Biennale and the imagined Mingun Museum of Art. He is the first artist in Myanmar to use the method of silkscreen on Shan paper. His work is deeply personal and often investigates his complex family life. He references traditional cartoons, pop art, sound and light through various mediums and never fails to surprise the viewer with an added touch.

In The White Cloth, he discusses the complex imagery of the fabric – one which we are wrapped in both at birth and in death. He works through the artistic elements of the Burmese language, and takes a conceptual stand when it comes to describing his work – for example, the deconstruction of Myat Kan, the Bagan-era Burmese poem which he stripped of all its consonants.

Read Phyoe Kyi’s artist statement below and come to Myanm/art to view the works, on display from 18 September – 1 October.

The main subject of exhibition

-White cloth is used as a diaper for the newly born infant as well as to cover the body of the deceased.
-The meanings of the two white cloths, which are used in the beginning and the end of one’s life, greatly differ.
-Nobody is really sure how much time it will be between these two white cloths.
-How do we spend the time between the white cloth at the beginning of our lives and the white cloth at the end of our lives?

This the main question of this exhibition.

– Although you didn’t remember the white cloth which belonged to you in the first place,
the white cloth which belonged to you at last is readily at hand, flying like a flag in the wind.
I don’t remember anything. I have known since I tread my foot here that it’s a dead-end road with too many junctions. But I vaguely remember – like a blind, deaf and dumb person whose only companion is his disability, journeying with tears on his cheeks.

I don’t remember exactly. While on the journey when I gained my eyesight, would it be the fields of colours that I’d seen for the first time? The colours stained upon my body too. I dare not accuse anyone who deliberately did that to me. What I vividly remember is that I was stained with a myriad of colours. I don’t want to know the origins of those colours. It’s certainly not my business.

I don’t remember everything. Accompanied by a body stained with colours, I’m quite certain that I had been seeking the things which bore similar colours like mine. As there were so many colours on my body, the things that I’d found were also multi-coloured. Trying to get along with everything, I didn’t even know which were my true colours. It’s my own fault that I was stained with colours. By my own findings. If I didn’t want to be stained, I should be keeping away from them in the first place. It’s already done. Will have to bear with those various colours, even if sullenly.

-I’ve remembered few things. To have myriad of colours on my body was helping me socialise among every different colours. Whether it’s right, or wrong, I don’t want to know. It’s certainly not my business.

I’ve remembered exactly. After passing so many junctions, I suddenly found myself with various colours. While watching the multitudes of colours upon my body, I felt glad and sad at the same time. Why did I feel glad? Why did I feel sad? I couldn’t think of the answers. It’s certainly not my business.

-Concerning two different types of colour compositions such as RGB and CYMK, one of which resulted black in mixing every different colour, while with the another type resulted while mixing white with every different colour. What would be the result if I have mixed all the colours upon myself? Would that be white? Or would that be black? With which composition do I go along? Towards the white? Or towards the black? I still can’t be very sure about that. I can’t see anything clearly. And it’s certainly not my business.

Phyo Kyi, 2016, August.

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