San Naing is proud. His art gallery in this tiny remote beach town was the first which opened. It was in the year 2005 and Burma was strictly ruled by a military regime. At that time San Naing had finished his art studies at the State School of Fine Art in Yangon and was married. He liked the life in the capital, but he and his wife were originally from the town of Thandwe in Western Burma, near the magical beaches of the Bay of Bengal. The couple had to get permission of every visit which brought them home to their families.
One day, the authorities didn´t give them anymore the permission to go back to Yangon. San Naing and this wife had to stay in the remote area of their hometown. “Considering the situation now I was lucky not to be allowed to go back.” He had to make a living and of course, he wanted to work in art. By chance he opened a simple art gallery in neighbouring Ngapali Beach.
“I saw tourists coming to this beautiful spot”, he remembers. Especially for tourists he opened his gallery, because they had been his first clients. In the beginning he painted only for them and to sell his art. But more and more he developed his own personality as an artist, his individual art. Nowadays he specializes in emotional art and the walls of the gallery are filled with women or couple portraits, all in the tropical setting of his home country.
With the opening of the country towards democratic reforms San Naing got a passport and can travel freely. He uses this freedom for exhibit his art in Bangkok, Thailand. Not he himself but his paintings travelled already to group exhibitions in Hong Kong and the US.
The 42-years old artist remembers the books he was reading as a pupil. “I visited regularly the library of my home town after school. There I found the amazing book on Myanmar’s famous painter Ban Nyang.” During colonial times he could travel to England for studying Western traditionally painting. “From this time on I was obsessed to become a painter”, San Naing admits.
He knows that a big part of his success is owned to tourists. To those foreigners who bring his art in other countries, talking about him, the Burmese painter from Ngapali Beach. He hopes that the good vibes continue and that more guests will come to his country. But all depends on the future of Myanmar.