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February 18, 2011 > Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is

By Steven Ree Worley

Burma, or its 'official' name as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, bordered by fabled Tibet and Yunnan regions of China to the north, Laos and Thailand to the southeast, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean to the west and south. The Land Formerly Known as Burma has certainly known its share of contrasts as a country crisscrossed by three mountain ranges, tropical forest valleys, more than 800 species of birds, and centuries of human conflict.

A product of Burma is the artwork of Dr. Htain Win, a former doctor of medicine from the jungles of Burma and a recent transplant to the Bay Area. His story is intriguing, a tropical doctor-turned-artisan. Dr. Win was a specialist in tropical diseases, a malariologist who treated AIDS patients and studied art in various countries during the 1980s and 1990s. "Why did you leave Burma, Dr. Win?" I asked him pointedly. "My wife had passed away in 1995, I had retired from medical practice, and my daughter had moved to Florida in 1999. I came to America in 2000 for my daughter's wedding, and I decided to stay and devote myself to art," he replied.

When asked what impelled him to create art, Dr. Win said that he had visited the Louvre in France during the late 1980s and the painting of Mona Lisa became a sort of muse for him; the works of Pablo Picasso were also particularly influential.

Over seventy of Dr. Win's latest works are on display at the Sun Art Gallery in Hayward this month in 'Home Is Where The Heart Is.' Looking over the pieces of Dr. Win, one cannot help but notice that there is no imitation of Leonardo da Vinci's magnum opus. Nor are there the strictly cubist renderings a la Picasso. What exists is a style of colorful, detailed imagery uniquely owned by the playful mind of Dr. Win.

"Looking at Dr. Win's work brings back a lot of memories from when my husband and I traveled in Burma in the 1990s", said Patra Nesseth-Steffes, a volunteer at the Sun Gallery in Hayward. Dr. Win's art is emotionally varied, detailed, and for the most part, brightly colored. His works contain the images and themes of animals, people, water scenes, and traditional Burmese architectural settings; all in varying perspectives and color schemes. "Every time that I come into this room I discover some new details that were previously hidden in Dr. Win's pieces," said Valerie Caveglia, Executive Director of the Sun Gallery. Dr. Win's work also reflects the world at large in the images represented by combinations of elements from disparate areas, such as a western house contained within the human heart.

A special Artist's Reception will be held this weekend.

Home Is Where The Heart Is
Through February 26

Artist Reception
Saturday, Feb 19
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Sun Art Gallery
Wednesday - Saturday
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
1015 E St., Hayward
(510) 581-4050

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