November 2008: Once Were Warriors – Hein Thit and Tin Win – Portraits of Naga tribesmen.
ONCE WERE WARRIORS....
TWO ARTISTS... Naga portraits by TIN WIN and HEIN THIT
DIFFERENT VISION, DIFFERENT STYLES, DIFFERENT MEDIA
Remote Naga Land has long held a fascination for foreigners who come to Myanmar. But it is not only foreigners who are beguiled by the idea of this inaccessible land and its people, cut off from the rest of the country and the 21st century. Over the years, artists and photographers have made the pilgrimage to Naga Land to see for themselves its hidden wonders. And so it was with master artists Tin Win and Hein Thit, who both made that journey to Naga Land to join in the New Year festivities in January 2007 and 2008.
They were moved and inspired by what they encountered there. Tin Win says "I was holding my breath at seeing the beautiful landscape, and the Naga's wonderful and extraordinary clothes and ornaments. Some of them had tattoos on their faces and were wearing buffalo-horn ear-plugs. Their rattan hat hung by two pieces of wild boar tusk, it had bear skin in the middle and beautiful feathers standing at the top. The hat with two horns reminded me of an English movie about Vikings which I watched when I was young."
Both artists felt compelled to depict what they had seen. Hein Thit says, "The way they dressed inspired me to create art. I tried to touch their internal souls. After studying my sketches for a long time, I picked up my brush. My sensations were totally absorbed by the Naga's faces."
Tin Win says, "Everything I saw there inspired me to paint. The Naga men seemed to be honest, steady in mind and stable in character. With their hunting and hillside cultivation in the steep mountains, they have very strong, healthy and good looking bodies. Although I had spent five days during their New Year festival in 2007 it was really not enough for me, so I went again in January, 2008. Now I am eagerly planning to visit their 2009 New Year festival."
Born in 1952, Tin Win graduated from The State School of Fine Art – Mandalay in 1973
One of Myanmar's most established and successful artists, Tin Win has participated in many exhibitions both in Myanmar and abroad. A collector of Myanmar Phyu period antiquities, Tin Win's art often incorporates images or icons from Myanmar's rich heritage, placed in a contemporary context.
This series of Naga portraits showcases his extraordinary photo-realistic technique, creating paintings which seem to vibrate with their vitality. The gold leaf background, more commonly seen adorning religious icons, is a fitting setting for these proud and handsome people.
Born in 1971, Hein Thit graduated from The State School of Fine Art – Yangon in 1991. One of the younger generation of artists, his work is often semi-abstract, characterized by bold brushwork, strong composition and a vision that encompasses the contradictory nature of human experience.
In this series of Naga portraits, we see the signature rhythmic brushwork, as bold and uncompromising as the subjects he is depicting. Strong works, yet delicate in their colour palette which leans to sepia, greys and blood red, harking back to earlier times.