The Burmese Minister of Sports has invited graffiti artist Arkar Kyaw – who became an overnight hit in November last year when he painted a mural of US President Barack Obama ahead of his landmark trip to Burma – to ply his trade in Naypyidaw as part of a promotion for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Burma will host the 27th SEA Games at stadiums and venues in Rangoon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw and Ngwe Saung from 11 to 22 December.
Speaking to DVB on Tuesday, the director of the Sports and Physical Education Department, Htay Aung, said Arkar Kyaw has been invited to paint a mural at a site near Center Market in the capital.
“The sports minister would like Arkar Kyaw to paint something related to the SEA Games in the central part of the city,” he said. “We will set up a huge billboard for him. We just need to get permission from Naypyidaw council.”
Arkar Kyaw will be offered to spray-paint a billboard 18 feet high and 60 feet long. Htay Aung said the ministry would not rule out the possibility of further contracts for the urban artist if his work is met with approval.
The Rangoon-based graffiti artist confirmed that he has already met with a sports department official. He told DVB that he does not know the exact details of the proposal but said he would be happy to oblige.
In recent years, as Burma emerges from decades of military rule, more and more graffiti artists’ works have appeared on walls and at sites around Rangoon. One artist who spoke previously to DVB estimated that no less than 100 graffiti artists regularly took to the streets to offer their own brand of colour to the former colonial capital.
However, Yangon City Development Committee last year declared a prohibition of any form of drawing or painting on public places including schools and parks. Arkar Kyaw was fined for US$100 for painting a portrait of President Thein Sein on his birthday. He also painted a mural of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on her 68th birthday.