`The Cycle of Life’ | Htein Lin

3 December 2021  –  January 2022

The Cycle of Life is the first exhibition at PontArte, Maastricht by Myanmar artist Htein Lin. The exhibition is part of a wider program in cooperation with the Foto Museum Maastricht’s exhibition “Survivors” and is made in collaboration with Tasneem Gallery (Barcelona/Berlin).

Htein Lin is known for his activist artwork that refers to his imprisonment under the previous military regime in Myanmar and reflects upon freedom and rights including since the 1 February 2021 coup that brought the military back into power in Myanmar. You can read about his unusual artistic trajectory in the digital publication accompanying this exhibition.

“The Cycle of Life” takes place while the photo series “Survivors” by Martin Schoeller is being shown at the Foto Museum in Maastricht. As with Schoeller’s portraits of Holocaust survivors, The Circle of Life shows the impact that authoritarian regimes can have on those who dissent. It shows his most recent work and reflects on work in previous exhibitions.

Htein Lin is a survivor himself with a strong message. During Lunch with the Financial Times in March 2021 Htein Lin was asked what he had learned from his experience as an activist for human rights: “An understanding of how people get bad with power. It was quite an important experience in my life”.

It was a desire to share this experience with the new generation of Generation Z rebels now fighting with the Myanmar military in the jungles and Yangon’s streets which led Htein Lin this year to create a new series called ‘Instruments of Torture’, being shown for the first time at Pont Arte.  ‘I wanted to warn them of the risks of being divided by leadership ambition and distrust’, he says. ‘I didn’t want the same thing to happen again’. The Instruments of Torture are powerful works of repression and resistance. They depict real and imaginary machines: a wind-up phone that can electrocute, an imaginary motorcycle to ride for the delight of his torturers.

In the exhibition you can also see works from different periods of his oeuvre. The innovative monoprint technique that he developed while in prison, using his fingers in place of a brush, was put to use after his release.

Through his travels, he discovered other nations’ stories of conflict and survival.  ‘How do you find Amsterdam?’ and ‘How do you find Belfast?’ are included in the Pontarte exhibition. In ‘Amsterdam’, Anne Frank is tucked away between the bars of a Mondrian.

In Belfast, Lokanat, the Myanmar spirit of peace, hovers over the Armalite rifles.

Participating in international performance art festivals such as Tupada in Manila, he revelled in the freedom to do performance art in public such as ‘HappyLand’ after a third brief incarceration in May 2005 for a street performance in Yangon. But that’s another story…..

‘The Life of the Buddha’ (2009) is large work on cloth, using his prison monoprint technique, but bigger than the cell in which he spent over six years.

There is no opening due to COVID-19 regulations. On the 4th of December there is an virtual talk with the artist.

We will inform shortly about other events around the exhibition.

COVID-19 measures requires proof of vaccination and registration.

Opening hours during the exhibition: Thu to Saturday 11.00 – 17.00 and by appointment. Kapoenstraat 29 in Maastricht. The show will run from the 3rd of December until a to be decided date in January 2022.

For more information:  marieke@pontarte.com or call +31(0)637403499

About the artist

Htein Lin`s work has been exhibited in the UK, US, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Italy and the Netherlands. His work has been acquired by Singapore Art Museum, M+ Museum Hong Kong, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.

A detailed CV will be sent on request