‘Gloomy Room 4’

There is a certain claustrophobia that can crop up from being in one place, or one situation, for too long. It is not necessarily a closing-in from the outside: the limbs still function perfectly well; the feet take the body here and there; the eyes rove; from time to time a breeze can even rustle the hair on the head, the nape, the arms. Indeed, the head itself is generally unfazed by this torpidity. Rather, this is a corked-up anxiety, a claustrophobia from within: the rising feeling not that the outside is closing in, but that the inside is trying, increasingly desperately, to come out.

There is a franticness in this work by Htein Lin, a gripping energy that is, for the moment, being corralled into temperamental shapes – sometimes jagged, sometimes flowing; sometimes working well within their boundaries, and sometimes, perhaps most times, aiming for clear transcendence, if not acceptance. But will that transcendence be the eventual harnessing of this energy into codified shapes of stagnant, utilitarian goodwill? Or, rather, the discovery of a formlessness bordering on unity?

~ This is part of a regular series of Himal's commentary on work by the Burmese artist Htein Lin. Acrylic on cotton.   

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Himal Southasian