Shan State Army – N
About the Artist
Sawangwongse Yawnghwe was born in Shan State of Burma in 1971. He comes from the Yawnghwe royal family of Shan. His grandfather, Sao Shwe Thaik, was the first president of the Union of Burma (1948–1962) after the country gained independence from Britain in 1948. Shwe Thaik died in prison following the 1962 military coup by General Ne Win. Since then, Yawnghwe’s family was driven into exile. They stayed in Thailand, then escaped to Canada, where Yawnghwe grew up and received education. He now lives and works in the Netherlands.
Yawnghwe’s painting and installation practice engages politics with reference to his family history as well as current and historical events in his country. Family photographs also provide the basis for a pictorial language through which he explores events in the country, suggesting that existing and available archives cannot reveal a nation’s entire truth. In addition, Yawnghwe’s work of maps charts the conflicts between drugs such as heroin and amphetamines, revolutionary armies, minority ethnicities, mining and gas pipelines, the armament of generals, as well as state genocide against its minorities. He intends to bring discernible order to a complex political situation.
Yawnghwe has exhibited internationally, including: Dhaka Art Summit (Bangladesh, 2020), the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Australia, 2018), the 12th Gwangju Biennale Exhibition (Korea, 2018), Dhaka Art Summit (Bangladesh, 2018), Qalandiya International — Jerusalem Show VIII (Jerusalem, 2016), Steirischer Herbst (Austria, 2016), and Dak'Art 2016/The 12th Biennale of Contemporary African Art (Senegal, 2016). He has also exhibited in numerous museums, including: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – Seoul (Korea, 2020), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (Poland, 2018), Van Abbemuseum (Netherlands, 2018), MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Thailand, 2018), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Ireland, 2016), and Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (Netherlands, 2015). His works is housed in the collections of MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Thailand and Singapore Art Museum.