April 18, 2021
Interviews Interviews

Interview with Artist Salai Nan Yan: ‘Mountain’ The first solo art exhibition

(Photo of Salai Nan Yan by Chinland Guardian)

7 November 2020 – Salai Hung Bu Ning, also known as Salai Nan Yan, organized his first solo art exhibition titled ‘Mountain’, believed to be the first of its kind, in Hakha, Chin State on 5-6 November 2020. The young Chin artist started his paintings in fine art while he was studying at the University of Veterinary Science in 2017. Born to Mr. Ning Hung and Mrs. Ne Kya, Salai Nan Yan is the fourth son among seven siblings. Finishing his degree at the University of Veterinary Science in 2019, he now works as a deputy staff officer at the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department in Hakha.

Chinland Guardian: What is the purpose of this exhibition?
Salai Nan Yan: I want people to be relaxed with my artworks, especially this period of election fever when people are worried or tired or busy. I just want to share my ‘fine art’ paintings with people.

Chinland Guardian: So, do you target any particular audience or people in general?
Salai Nan Yan: I have no limitation on whom I want to focus.

Chinland Guardian: What is your painting style?
Salai Nan Yan: For this exhibition, I use realism style and I have a plan to draw expression, surrealism and abstract later.

Paintings on display at the exhibition (Photo: Chinland Guardian)

Chinland Guardian: What kind of material do you especially use for this painting?
Salai Nan Yan: I mostly draw using watercolor.

Chinland Guardian: Tell us how you started getting interested in painting?
Salai Nan Yan: When I was in my third year at university, I read and studied biographies of some famous painters and their pictures. Then, I got an inspiration from their paintings and other arts.

Chinland Guardian: Did you actually study painting?
Salai Nan Yan: I studied it as an additional subject during my study at university.

Chinland Guardian: We heard that you took part in other exhibitions. Tell us more.
Salai Nan Yan: I participated in the Chin National Day celebration in Mindat where I took some of my paintings out in public display for the first time. Together with other eight painters, I then took part in the exhibition called ‘Koh Yoe’ in Mandalay. Another event was organized in Yangon with five members of students’ union, where I participated there as a representative of University of Veterinary Science Students’ Union.

At any exhibitions I had participated, I put out my selected paintings on display in different categories depending on the themes or the nature of the events. During my first exhibition at the Chin National Day event, I chose my collection of Chin tradition, which was followed by a collection of sketch drawings. Then in Hakha now, I presented the beauty of diverse landscapes and scenery of Chinland using watercolor.

Chinland Guardian: Any challenges in organizing this solo art exhibition in Hakha?
Salai Nan Yan: Yes. One of the main challenges now is because of COVID-19 situations. The government is concerned about people gathering in an event like this, too. Another concern from the government is whether the exhibit will contain some political elements as the election is approaching.

Chinland Guardian: So, do you take any COVID-19 preventive measures for audience to the exhibition?
Salai Nan Yan: Yes, I took this into proper consideration. We have hand sanitizers to ensure that people wash their hands using it before they enter the the exhibition and also take their temperature using a non-contact thermometer. We also remind everyone of the need to keep social distancing. The exhibition is open from 9am to 5pm and only for two days to avoid larger gathering of people.

Chinland Guardian: Do you have any sponsor for this event?
Salai Nan Yan: No, I don’t. This is on my own.

Chinland Guardian: Do you sell your paintings here? Can people buy them?
Salai Nan Yan: Yes. As you can see, all the paintings here have a label of prices and types of medium I use.

Chinland Guardian: Do you have any plan to showcase this kind of exhibition later?
Salai Nan Yan: This is my first solo exhibition which means the second, third, … will follow (laughing).

Paintings on display at the exhibition (Photo: Chinland Guardian)

Chinland Guardian: By the way, do you have other hobbies in art?
Salai Nan Yan: I compose poems.

Chinland Guardian: Tell us more about your poems.
Salai Nan Yan: I have my first poetry book to be published soon. I also submitted my articles in Burmese to ‘Nhit Kar La’ press but it has been delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic. And I have plans to publish a collection of short novels (lenhloi in Hakha language) together with my friends.

Chinland Guardian: Share your views on whether it is possible for an aspiring artist to be able to make a living in the current contexts of our society.
Salai Nan Yan: It depends on the income of each citizen. Everyone has a sense of passion and feeling to art. On the other hand, our society needs to continue support for people to be more creative and passionate about art. We hope that our country will develop to provide opportunities for artists and their arts to improve. If our country progresses, we can stand on our feet as an artist.

Chinland Guardian: Thanks for your time.
Salai Nan Yan: Thank you for interviewing me.

The interview was conducted at the exhibition with Salai Nan Yan on 5 November by Cer Len Ci and Naomy VT Chin, reporters at the Chinland Guardian.#

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