HONG KONG—“It’s very difficult" for artists in Burma, Hong Kong gallery owner Karin Weber says.
"They have no chance to travel outside, and where can they get new ideas?"
Fine arts instruction is scarce, and those who
do get training "are taught in such a narrow way—they’re not encouraged to
experiment," she says.
But some manage to push the boundaries of Burma's conventional art scene, and performance art is becoming a growth industry, though critics say the quality varies.
A great deal of Burmese art is commercial and sold to tourists, experts say, but some contains overtly political themes and not-so-veiled criticism of the junta that has ruled Burma without interruption for nearly a half-century.
Weber's gallery in the Central district of Hong Kong has been exhibiting works by a number of Burmese artists this year, and she plans to bring them to Europe for a first-ever exhibition in Berlin.
Galleries in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have also exhibited Burmese artists, along with others in Australia, Britain, and the United States.
"I always encourage people to go to Burma, to meet the
local people," Weber, a German native, says.
"The artists need to meet people and to interact with the outside world."
Getting art out of the country is easier than bringing out its creators.
"But sometime officials will say certain artworks can't leave the country, especially if they don't understand them," Weber says.
Reported by Sarah Jackson-Han in Hong Kong.