Claiming a New Space
Bina Sarkar Ellias

Essentially it was Buddhism that inspired much of Burma’s early art. While indigenous responses to landscape and people prevailed in early Burmese art, the Indian influence of that era kindled much of the approach to painting, sculpting and architecture. According to art historian Dr. Richard M Cooler, it was in the Pagan period [11th-13th Century] that the first examples of figurative painting occurred on temple walls, employing the Pala style of India and Nepal.

Centuries on, other oeuvres evolved, from mural to palm and parchment painting, until the British arrived, bringing with them the school of western art with its trail of genres: impressionist, expressionist, abstract and avant-garde, Dadaism and Surrealism. Influences of pop and post-modernism were not far behind, reflected increasingly in performance art. Long in isolation, today, as Derrida’s deconstruction stealthily filters in, Burma’s contemporary art is stirring interest worldwide.

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