Specializing in Thai & Asian Contemporary Art

Working out of Chiang Mai since 2017, Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s  paintings possess rough-hewn surfaces where contrasts of images and text claim fractious relations of history and memory.

In addition, The  Bullet School Canvases are an extensive series of site specific, large-scale installation based paintings commissioned by H Gallery.  This massive installation heightens the drama of the subject matter with multiple perspectives.

Yawnghwe’s biography is marked by violent episodes in the recent histories of Southeast Asia. His surname comes from the name of the Shan state where his grandfather once ruled as Saopha, a hereditary royal title meaning Lord of the Sky. The grandfather, Sao Shwe Thaike, was the first President of Burma following independence from the British Empire in 1948. He was arrested in the infamous military takeover led by General Ne Win in 1962 and subsequently died in prison. Yawnghwe was born in a Shan State Army (SSA) camp in Shan State, Burma. However, he was initially raised in Thailand before his family fled as exiles to Canada after a spate of assassinations of people connected to the SSA. The fraught assembling of identity subsequent to personal and collective losses is an urgent theme of his practice.

Many of Yawnghwe’s paintings are based on the flag-like structure of color-field grounds, and the preponderance of green is symbolic of both Shan State and Burma/Myanmar, symbolizing agricultural abundance and peace. Across these grounds, carefully rendered media images, personal memorabilia, graffito and abstracted signs seemingly float or hang haphazardly. Acronyms for rogue armies abut images of military hardware, glamourized depictions of politicians and figures wearing modern and traditional garb. Most recently, Yawnghwe has produced lush paintings of landscapes that are less suggestive of the passing of time on conflicted geographies, or prelapsarian romanticism, than how violent histories can become lost.

All works are acrylic and oil on canvas