WITH naked people cluttering up nearly every top exhibition space in London these days it is hard to imagine how a discreet nude portrait could create a nationwide scandal.
       But when Burmese artist Khin Myint attempted to show her paintings of nudes in her homeland they were banned by a committee including representatives from government, military intelligence and the Burmese Socialist Party.
       It was only after much soul-searching that the then Director General of Information passed some of her nude figures, albeit discreet rear views, as fit for public display - she was the first woman in Burma to win this concession.
       "I wanted to demonstrate my liberation by painting nudes," Khin explained. "It's possible that I restricted myself to back views because of psychological pressure, but I do like back views."
       Never afraid to push boundaries, despite the fact she was working in a country under strict military control, Khin was also one of the first to experiment with abstract art, breaking many taboos and challenging traditional art forms.
       Together with her brother and sister, both artists, she was keen to break away from the characteristic drab colours and realistic subject matter of Burmese art.
       Her brother Sun Myint was one of the founders of the Movement, a controversial group, which started exhibiting in the capital Rangoon during the 1960's.
       Khin, who graduated in biology from Rangoon University, joined the group and first exhibited with them in 1972. An exhibition in 1976 saw all her nudes banned but her impressionist works were allowed and her reputation grew.
       Khin, who now lives in Rickmansworth, said: "I met the leading new wave artists through the Movement and they and Western artists all influenced my work.
       
Copyright ®  KHIN MYINT 2012
       "I loved the French impressionists and masters of chiaroscuro such as Caravaggio, and I was drawn to the sort of bold coloration that would never have figured in Burmese art."
       By the 1980's she was exhibiting regularly while teaching art and biology at Rangoon's International High School but was becoming more and more dismayed at the repression and violence around her.
       The aftermath of a student uprising in 1988, which was bloodily suppressed by the military junta that controlled the country and an election farce which saw the winner overthrown acted as spurs to move away.
       Khin said: "It's a repressive regime and you don't have the freedom to express what you want to express. The election made me frustrated and angry, and the situation remains very depressing."
       Having moved to England in 1991, she is now enjoying greater freedom to explore her talent. Her current work, some of which goes on show at the Radlett Centre next month, reveals a synthesis of Burmese ethnic art amd western abstraction and colour, incorporating materials such as hessian, string and gold leaf.
       Khin said: "I wanted to explore textures, movement and dimensions to a greater extent than I had been able to do in Burma. I particularly like the irregularity of hand-woven materials and the sense of movement thay impart to a painting."
       Khin's exhibition Untrampled Flowers runs from Saturday, June 7 to Saturday, June 28, at The Radlett Centre's Apthorp gallery. For more information telephone the venue on 01923 859291

From GO Magazine,
Watford Observer,
May 30th 2003
press 3
Burmese artist enjoying
freedom of expression

khin myint