BARTWASNOTHERE

NEW! Evil Genius limited edition canvas prints available now. 100 USD each.

“Remember When?” Series, Acrylic and Enamel on Canvas, 7 ft x 5 ft, 1000 USD each.

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.

-BARTWASNOTHERE