Myanmar/Burma: Artist returns after 18 years of exile, precautiously

24 June 2013

Even though government censorship of art has eased in Burma, Win Pe, a leading figure in Burma’s modern arts movement, is still taking precautions. While he displayed 20 colorful paintings of zodiac signs in his exhibition in Rangoon recently, he kept others off the walls in an act of self-censorship, reported The Irrawaddy.

“Censorship is said to be easing a bit, but it’s clear that people still need to be cautious,” Win Pe says in this video by Irrawaddy which was published on on 20 June 2013.

“I left out the paintings named ‘A Lion, but…’ and ‘Tribute to the Enemy,’ which I drew with a sense of humor. I might not be allowed to travel out of the country if I show these pictures. Who knows? I’m afraid because once I was blacklisted.”

Win Pe is back in Rangoon after 18 years in exile in the US. Under the former military regime he was forbidden from returning to his home due to his outspoken criticism of the junta while participating in an international writing programme at the University of Iowa in 1994.


“Even now, there isn’t 100 percent freedom, and the media has to report carefully. Even my comment about this could anger the government,” he told Irrawaddy with a laugh.

Win Pe returned to Rangoon after having been removed from the blacklist by President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government, which took power in 2011.

The Irrawaddy – 22 June 2013:
After Exile, an Artist Sees Burma’s New Colors
By Zarni Mann

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