Aung Ko


Aung Ko (b. 1980) is one of the more prominent artists of the younger generation. Having studied Painting at the University of Culture in Yangon, he has experimented comprehensively in a variety of mediums, with curator Iola Lenzi commenting: “Like all Southeast Asian practitioners of integrity, Aung Ko is never a slave to medium or technique, but rather carefully identifies the optimum form, medium and expressive genre to support and further his concept. Concept comes first”


Among this varied work, Aung Ko creates photorealistic paintings, such as ‘We Are Moving, which chronicle a series of bomb blasts that took place during Thingyan (Water Festival) in Yangon, killing nine people and injuring 170. The artist disregards censorship by recording on canvas what photographers at the time were arrested for illegally trying to capture and document. In his conceptual performance H.u.m.m.m…, which he initiated in 2007 by the river Irrawaddy in Thuye’dan, Aung’s native village in northwest Burma, the artist creates both a personal rite of purification and catharsis, and a political metaphor for escape and elevation over political oppression. Involving the local community, Ko carried thirteen wooden staircases and planted them into the river’s sand bed, then set them ablaze. During the hours-long fires, the artist stood chanting. Aung Ko’s work often demonstrates such subtle interweaving of self and context.


Aung Ko has exhibited at institutional events such as the Singapore Biennale 2008, the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale 2009 and other local and international exhibitions. He was part of the Goethe Institut’s ‘RiverScapes IN FLUX’ project which toured Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Jakarta and Manila in 2012-2013. In 2013, he was among the Southeast Asian artists featured in Primo Marella’s group exhibition DEEP S.E.A. He works in various media, including painting, pottery, film, performance and installation.