He was born in 1982 in Dawei, Tanintharyee Division. In Dawei, portraits done in pencil are usually commissioned for funerals. It was at one of these shops where Dawei Lay started to study art and learn the process of drawing. He moved to Yangon to study painting at the State School of Fine arts in 2001-2003.
In the beginning, Dawei Lay felt constrained and suffocated under the influences of his teachers and his early style. When he moved back to Dawei, he nearly gave up. But he was unfulfilled without art, and returned to Yangon, determined to dive deep into the art world and find his own voice through his paintings.
He then spent a few more years as an art intern with Zaw Zaw Aung, traveling in Upper Myanmar, and working as an assistant artist for Tin Tun Hlaing throughout for a few years.
Now he paints only on his own terms, fascinated by light, relaxed by open empty space, and freed by the simple yet powerful subjects of rural life in his paintings.
Strongly influenced by his stretch of travels to Mandalay and Sagaing, where lime-covered stupas are a common sight, he examines in this series how light dances with the color white, in the backdrop of the calming presence of Buddhist stupas.
His boats series started through his travel to Inle and seeing boats on the Bago river near Yuzana Garden City where he lives. “My life is suffocated by many things. When I travelled I got the sense of freedom and peace from Pagodas and water scenes. I created those two series because I wanted to express my feeling of freedom and peace. The subsequent series on floating markets and rural framing scenes expresses ordinary people’s lives,” said Dawei Lay.
“In my early life I couldn’t make enough income through my art. I also wanted to do my first solo show. Then I tried to sell some small things : onion, chili, vegetables, whatever with a small trolley at a small local market with my wife so that I could save my paintings to have my own solo show. But it took me more than one year since selling small things was too difficult, even making 2000 Ks a day selling all day starting from 7am” said Dawei Lay.
He has done 5 solo shows and participated in more than 50 group shows locally and internationally in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and USA.
He also is the 3rd Prize winner of Tun Foundation Bank Art Award (2007), Final List paintings of Myanmar Contemporary Art Awards, River Gallery (2008), Final List paintings of TunFoundation Art Awards (2009), Fourth Prize Winner of TunFoundation Bank Art Awards (2010).
He is one of the artists who got participated in the “Poetry of Brush and Ink”, Taiwan-Myanmar Art and Culture Exchange Exhibition that held at the Nawaday Tharlar Gallery in 2018, Yangon.
He lives and works in Yangon as a full-time artist.
Click here to see Dawei Lay's artwork.