Born 1971 Shan State, Myanmar
Lives and works in
Chiang Mai, Thailand and Zuphen, the Netherlands
Sawangwongse Yawnghwe was born in Myanmar, a country fraught with longstanding patterns of military repression and domination, accompanied by grave abuse towards ethnic and religious minorities. His painting and installation practice often intertwines the personal and political, with reference to his family history as well as current and historical events in Myanmar. Yawnghwe’s grandfather, Sao Shwe Thaik, was Burma’s first president after the country gained independence from Britain in 1948. Shwe Thaik died in prison following the 1962 military coup by General Ne Win, and his family was driven into exile. This position as an outsider with no clear place or ‘voice’ gives Yawnghwe a unique perspective into the relationship between the larger power structures at play in Myanmar (including religion and commerce) and the impact that these have on individual lives. Family photographs and reports provide the basis for a pictorial language through which he explores events in the country, suggesting that existing and available archives cannot reveal a nation’s entire truth.