Maung Aw is considered “the master who sells colour” by Myanmar artists, because of his paintings, which display colours that are unique to Maung Aw.
One year after his graduation in 1970, where he majored in Myanmar literature at Mawlamyine University, Maung Aw studied art under the late Grand Master of arts U Thein Han, who is, himself, a student of famed Myanmar artist U Ba Nyan. Maung Aw stayed with the master for five years, until he married.
In his early work, he created mostly still-life paintings.
His knowledge of art, gained under U Thein Han, allowed Maung Aw to be courageous enough to find alternative ways of creating art. Through the period from 1987 to 2000 he deviated from the accepted forms of realism, as promoted in the academic approach, and stepped into one uniquely his own, described as “a simple way, minimizing colours and shapes.” But, he has kept on his trajectory of capturing light, along with his eagerness to place colours on canvas, while changing the style of drawing. In those years, he captured light with his brush and painted a series of landscapes of Myanmar onto his canvas.
Again, in 2007, he simplified his use of colors by extracting colours from nature, while keeping them as simple as possible.
“The simplest way is the most effective,” said Maung Aw, displaying his “Turban Kid”, a painting of a series in which he introduced the beauty found in ordinary children.
In earlier years, his revolution in his own art brought pain to him, when some artists told him that his paintings were not yet finished.
In 2012 he brought about another revolution when he combined three to four landscapes to create just one, describing this, in his own words, as “simplification”. This simplification satisfied him, allowing him to to create his best paintings. But, he had to change his method of painting. Along his journey of simplification, he has continued using his typical “colour of Maung Aw.”
In 2014 he created a series of paintings, entitled, “In the Dressing Room”. These paintings displayed abstract designs, but were without local colour, and they caught the attention of local and international art collectors, who eagerly sought out his paintings at exhibitions, both abroad and at home.
It was in 2016 and 2017 that Maung Aw brought decorative motifs found in Asian countries to his abstract paintings, declaring his new creation as the “Decorative Way”. He developed this technique when he discovered floral designs and patterns, mostly found in the backdrop of Burmese thrones and temples in Bagan. While he tried adopting floral designs and motifs in his abstract paintings, he did not copy the same designs he had seen. Instead, he created his own motifs to attract viewers. “I have been working on decorated arts for more than one year, and I am waiting to see my new creation,” he said.
Maung Aw was born in 1945, and has participated in international shows for more than 25 years.