Beyond the thematic role of the village in Aung Ko’s practice, his expression is fully community-centric, his performances and installations tied to the village and its people through production and participation.
Ideas about geographies, histories, and customs emerge, pieces charting place and time through gesture and relic, an art recalling the transience, hope, and illusion of existence. Yet these creations are not pictorial replications of a pocket of rural Burma, but rather distillates of its imagery, rituals and rhythms, which combined, build an art telling idiosyncratic stories, while also obliquely questioning the system and values dominating the country today.
The themes of my paintings are based on the scenes of the water festival, but they also reflect the unstable situations of the global society today.
- Aung Ko
The golden sculptures “Ko Shwe” are portraits of Aung Ko himself, in different periods of his life: a naked body, hairless and coated of gold, in a relaxed or aggressive attitude. The naked body underlines the precariousness and vulnerability of the human condition, while gold refers, on one side to the identity of Burma, often called “golden land” for the gilding of the religious buildings, and on the other side to those Burmese living and working abroad, who call each other “Mister Gold”: men with golden dreams, who find themselves in conditions of anxiety, anguish, bitterness.
The gold, however, symbolizes the sacred, invoke a divine transcendence, a needing of overcoming the human condition through a metaphysical experience.