Oo Thett (1936-1993)
Oo Thett was born in 1936 in Mandalay, the ancient capital of
Burma. His father, U Hla Gyi was also an artist who taught
art in a public school. Paw Oo Thett lost his mother at an
early age. An only child, his father raised him with all the
care he could. After the end of world war II, when Burma
was still celebrating the end of hostilities, Paw Oo Thett then
years old became the victim of a serious accident. He lost
his right hand while playing with a grenade.
Right handed, Paw
Thett had to learn how to use his left hand to write and
draw. Reluctantly, Paw Oo Thett continued his schooling but did
go beyond the secondary level. Fortunately, a good friend
of the family succeeded to convince the budding artist to go
to school. Paw Oo Thett ultimately reached basic academic
Paw Oo Thet learned how to draw and paint from his
father. At age fifteen, he began to study with artist U Ba Thett,
took the “Thett” part of his name, and U Khin Maung.
While at school, Paw Oo Thett won many prizes in art competitions
and participated in a few exhibitions. In 1959, he won a scholarship
to study by correspondence with an art school based in the
United States. At twenty-one, Paw Oo Thett managed to live
from his art.
He worked as an illustrator and cartoonist in local magazines,
for the People Daily of Mandalay, the Mirror and the Working
Daily of Yangon. He was one of the founders of the comic monthly “Gali” published
Paw Oo Thett contributed two of his paintings, “Asian
Harbor Scene” (1974), and “Market” (1975),
to benefit a UNICEF funding campaign. These paintings were
used for the
productions of diaries, stamps and greeting cards. He also
for literacy campaign supported by the UN and the Burmese Government.
Paw Oo Thett also illustrated a number of educational books
published in the West. In 1963, his first one-man show in Yangon
entirety of his displayed paintings sold within minutes of
opening. It was his very first real success.
Paw Oo Thett became
well known amongst western art connoisseurs as an artist who
could blend traditional Myanmar art and culture
with Western modern techniques.
A heavy smoker, Paw Oo Thett died of Lung cancer at his home on
the 13th of April 1993. He was only fifty-seven years old. His
widow, Daw Tin Kyi passed away in 2003 but their three sons are
still living in Mandalay, Myanmar.