Wars, famines and civil unrest are some of the reasons people are displaced from their homeland and take refuge in other countries. To honor the sacrifices of refugees around the world, the United Nations has designated June 20 as World Refugee Day. More than just a reminder of the atrocities these people face, this is a day when strength, courage and tenacity are celebrated despite persecution and damage.
Embodying these traits is Chuu Wai Nyein, an artist who fled her home country in Myanmar following the February 2021 military coup. She was involved in a peaceful protest through her art group, “Write for Right. “in Yangon, which later led her to exile. The artwork created by Chuu Wai Nyein proved too controversial and her family had to leave the country for their safety.
After leaving Myanmar, the artist traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, and decided to settle in the new country. Being in a different country has provided Chuu Wai Nyein with new perspectives on how to create more unique works of art that are a fusion of Myanmar and Ukrainian cultures. The central theme of the idea of female identity remains the focal point of Chuu Wai Nyein’s paintings. For her, works of art are created against awareness of the many ways society controls and scrutinizes women more than men. Furthermore, she also recounts the ways in which women fought to resist this unfair treatment and how the culture has grown to be intolerant of such prejudices.
To fully grasp the intention of Chuu Wai Nyein’s body of work, it is necessary to look at his work as a whole and peel off the many layers before exposing the hidden meanings the artist wishes to expose. The artworks, which often portray women who appear to be in their 20s, are seen as carefree and sexy. It is as if these women are smiling at the onlookers for keeping archaic visions. Also, to emphasize the fact that society needs to move away from these traditional notions, some of his paintings even show women with their legs open and showing underwear.
Chuu Wai Nyein’s artistic foray does not stop only at the paintings. She has also ventured into other mediums such as traditional textiles and even performances, all to show her solidarity with the plight of women around the world.
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