Paintings by Paw Oo Thett

Watercolour on Paper, 19" x 14"

 

Paw Oo Thett

Paw Oo Thett (1936-1993) was one of the most famous Burmese painters in modern times, producing vibrant works in both watercolour on paper and oil paintings on canvas.

His work combined traditional subjects with more modern ones, like scenes from daily life; and similarly his paintings manage to combine traditional and modern techniques producing a style that is recognisably his own.

Bagan (1991)
Bagan (1991)
Watercolour on Paper, 19″ x 14″

He was born and lived most of his life in the old capital city of Mandalay, a city that had been devastated, and indeed almost razed to the ground, during the war years.

He hardly had the best start in life as a future artist: at the age of 12 he picked up a hand-grenade left over from the war and it exploded, blowing off his right hand, which was his writing hand up till that time.

Ascending Tracts (1992)
Ascending Tracts (1992)
Watercolour on Paper, 10″ x 12″

Undeterred by this unfortunate accident, he managed to learn to write and draw with his left hand, and he made such good progress that even in his early twenties he was earning enough from his work as an illustrator for magazines and papers to earn his living.

He staged his first one man show in Rangoon in 1963, and remarkably it sold out in the first few minutes of opening, and his career as a successful modern artist was assured from then on.

A Scene on the Shwedagon Terrace (1967)
A Scene on the Shwedagon Terrace (1967)
Oil on Canvas, 34″ x 27″

A couple of his paintings were used by UNICEF in one of their funding campaigns, and some of his watercolours are now selling for $5,000, which is far more than he received when he was alive, of course. I haven’t been able to find prices for his oil paintings, but they would presumably fetch more.

Paw Oo Thett was a life-long and very heavy smoker and eventually he died from lung cancer at the age of 57 on April 13th, 1993.

The photographs of Paw Oo Thett’s paintings are reproduced with permission from khine min’s picasa web album. I have mainly chosen ones with a religious subject for this post, though he was equally able with portraits and landscapes.

While researching for this post I came across a fine collection of material from Burmese artists at the DhammaWeb website, which besides works by Paw Oo Thett has many other works by recent and contemporary Burmese artists.

Stupa with lion (1992)
Stupa with lion (1992)
Watercolour on Paper, 11″ x 15″

 

Monastery (1992)
Monastery (1992)
Watercolour on Paper, 11″ x 15″

 

Monastery (Date Unknown)
Monastery (Date Unknown)
Watercolour on Paper, size unknown

 

Novitiation Scene (Date Unknown)

Novitiation Scene (Date Unknown)
Watercolour on Paper, size unknown

 

Inle (1968)

Inle (1968)
Oil on Canvas, 70″ x 21″

 




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