Video of Bart Was Not Here working on his latest series God Complex, produced by Ko Jason Sip and Litt Entertainment, Yangon.

God Complex
by Bart Was Not Here

Stories are perspectives and series of situations. God Complex is a place of unapologetic personal perspective. It is a fictional world born out of a collision of art and ego.

The main character is the artist’s take on a Jinn (Genie) from Islamic Mythology with a twist of pop culture influences. The running theme in all the paintings is the romantic hunger for power or dominance. Here, the audience is presented with a conflict in each image. It is a chance to conjure up the inception and conclusion of the story beyond the image. The art is within, pulling apart the conflict and unfolding it. What the audience does with the situation within each painting is up to their imagination.

This series is highly inspired by Heironymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, Roy Lichtenstein, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and the Pop Surrealist movement.

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When someone says ‘Burmese culture,’ people instantly think pagodas, bullock carts, monks, and girls wearing Thanakha on their faces Most of the reflections of Myanmar in paintings are not exactly accurate reflections of Burmese culture. Those things might represent some kind of aesthetic elements of the country, but definitely not the culture.

Being raised as an inner city youth in the early 2000s, the culture I grew up in consisted of tea shops, video/book rental houses, and the non-existent playground on the streets. I was too young to be hanging out in teashops and too physically weak to be competing with other kids on the streets, so I turned to the video and book rental spots. Around age 10, I had great friendships with the owners or random people who hung out at these places – people who were about 2 or 3 times older than I was – but I listened and learned. It was through these places I also started to have a strong relationship with movies, books, and music. I was fully immersed into Yangon’s pop culture before I knew it.

Today, movies and music are still around and people still put the old classics on the pedestal, but the books, especially the Burmese comic books, have faded into the background in the last decade. Burmese comics/cartoons always played a major role in disrupting the status quo or criticizing the norm. Burmese comic characters are entertaining, informative, and most importantly, intimate. Now that many other distractions have replaced our beloved icons, it’s only fair that we thank the old icons for being with us through all the good and bad times in our early lives.

This work deals with a time and space in Yangon pop culture history by way of the iconic characters. They serve as a representation for various personalities and narrations of Burmese culture, with a twist of Pop Art aesthetics and Frank Stella element. Also, this work is a clear statement that paintings or artworks representing Burmese culture or Yangon should just not be about pretty girls, monks, and fucking landscapes.