The Art of Myint Soe
Critique by Curator Mr Choy Weng Yang
Soe Soe was born in 1967 in Laputta, Myanmar. His artistic talent was evident as a young boy and his talented parents - his father being a pianist and his mother an instructor of traditional dance - nurtured his gift for painting. At 18, he started painting professionally and by 2008, at the age of 41, his achievements in painting includes 23 years of experience as a full-time artist and several solo exhibitions. In 2003, Myint Soe's entry was in top 30 out of 296 at the prestigious Myanmar Contemporary Art Exhibition. The selected work was later featured at the 2004 Myanmar Contemporary Art Exhibition.
Soe's forte is his ability to subject his art to the process of evolution and hence tracing the transitions of his overall painting development is revealing. Once he overcame the basic mechanisms of painting - crucial to any aspiring art practitioner - he focused exclusively on the intricate art of composition to explore unexplored potential. The brilliant Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio sprung to mind, for in the 17th century when great Italian Renaissance masters had already taken the art of figure composition to its highest peak, Caravaggio broke new ground with his superlative-realistic paintings with the element of realism being so original, dramatic and gripping that it completely overwhelmed his Italian contemporaries with hypnotizing power.
Soe's own searching experiments in figure-compositions led him to evolve his own identity and style. Eager to keep up with the spirit of his time, his refreshing compositions are characterized by Soe's ability to galvanize such deceptively common-place elements as colour, design, simplicity, clarity and austerity and create the best visual effects by liberating their potential in order to produce compositions which possess disarmingly entrancing visual power.
When it came to the exploring the possibilities of the element of light in the painting process, Myint Soe was irresistibly fascinated by the French Impressionists' credo emerging from their historic breakthrough in painting in the 19th century. In their breathtakingly original innovation in the realm of visual perception, the French Impressionists declared, with courageous single-mindedness, that the elements of light and colour were one, that they were inextricably inseparable. They argued with forceful persuasion that it was colour which gave light its explicit expression. Subsequently, Claude Monet's heroic cluster of masterpieces in painting - the Haystack series, the Cathedral series and the Waterlilies series vindicated the French Impressionists. What made treatment of light in his painting exceptional was that he side-tracked the popular practices of expressing light through the contrast of light and dark, the tonal spectrum or intricate nuances of light sensations. Soe's uncompromising striking colour hues effectively exude an invisible light. There is no indication of any attempt at structuring light. And there lies the mystery of his art.
Having concentrated exclusively on the art of composition and then that of light in the context of his painting, Soe turned logically to yet another crucial force in creative painting - colour. And in this respect he could not possibly have resisted the revolutionary new wave in the role of colour advanced by influential French artist, Henri Matisse - a breakthrough of great consequence. Especially captivating was how Matisse engineered the regeneration of the boundless possibilities of colour - till then largely unexploited - how he led the experimental Fauvist Movement, how he created brilliant works with revolutionary visual concepts and how ,at the peak of his artistic maturity in the 20th century, he perpetually evolved the surprising series of his paper-cut artworks characterized by simplicity, clarity, evocative resonance and, most impressively, daring originality.
In his in-depth pursuit of colour, Soe was uncompromisingly determined to forge his own independent direction, convinced that there was ample room for originality. Through trials and errors he stringently reduced the complexity of his work to its utmost essentials. Ultimately, colour and design formed the crux of the painting with line and mass, rhythm and movement revolving around it. His paintings were eventually endowed with resonance, stillness and precision. The outcome: a work replete with mysterious effects and a touch of the surreal.