250
250
U Ngwe Gaing
GREAT SHWEDAGON PAGODA
Estimate
260,000380,000
LOT SOLD. 325,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
250
U Ngwe Gaing
GREAT SHWEDAGON PAGODA
Estimate
260,000380,000
LOT SOLD. 325,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

U Ngwe Gaing
1901-1967
GREAT SHWEDAGON PAGODA

Catalogue Note

U Ngwe Gaing is undoubtedly one of Burma’s pre-eminent modern artists. Known to be a gifted painter whose works were rich with sensibility, U Ngwe Gaing displays a keen versatility is his technical mastery across a wide range of subjects – landscapes, still life and portraits.

 

As a painter, U Ngwe Gaing developed his skills through self-practice with no formal education. He was mentored by Ba Nyan, a revolutionary artist from the early Rangoon school, and they would often paint together on weekends as opposed to partaking in structured lessons. His close relationship with Ba Nyan led to frequent comparisons between the two, with the moniker of Burma’s best artist often the subject of external comparison. Both artists, however, had their own individual style and naturally displayed differences – neither being too concerned with these subjective titles. U Ngwe Gaing was, later in his career, awarded the Alinga Kyaw Saw, the highest accolade for a Burmese artist.  

 

In the Great Shwedagon Pagoda, U Ngwe Gaing depicts the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. Its majesty and reverence is apparent as it towers over the smaller shrines, eye-catching in its luminescence.  He creates texture in the background, giving form to the clouds by using thick impasto; mixing two to three colours on his brush before applying it the paint liberally onto the canvas while maintaining a certain delicacy.[1]

 

With his affinity for color and fondness for a rich visual language, U Ngwe Gaing captures the sunlight basking on the bright gold stupa and the deeper hues of the surrounding shrines, generating a soft, warm glow that exists within the piece. Painted in 1967, this piece falls in the last stretch of U Ngwe Gaing’s ‘Golden Period’. Characterised by naturalist landscapes and varying shades of golds, yellows and browns that are “most innate to Burma,”[2]  this golden period defines U Ngwe Gaing’s stylistic maturity and the relaxed control he had over his skills.

 

Despite being western in oil technique and method, U Ngwe Gaing’s oeuvre is fixated on Burma; in colour, subject and character, his practice was “quintessentially Burmese.”[3] He did not seek strict verisimilitude, perhaps mirroring his unassuming personality, and was not confined to the rules of formal training. With a sense of ease, optimism and positivity in his works, U Ngwe Gaing was a defining figure of a fresh Burmese visual identity.  

 

[1] Andrew Ranard, Burmese Painting: A Linear and Lateral History, Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, 2009. p. 144

[2] Ibid, p. 147

[3] Ibid, p. 138

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong