Sitt Nyein Aye, Burmese artist and political activist, Died at 67


Sitt Nyein Aye (Burmese: စစ်ငြိမ်းအေး, IPA: [sɪʔ ɲéiɰ̃ ʔé]; 24 April 1956 – 1 September 2023) was a highly regarded Burmese artist known for his profound contributions to the art world.

Early Life and Education

Sitt Nyein Aye was born in a modest village near Nyaung-U Township in Upper Myanmar, on 24 April 1956, as Sein Aye (စိန်အေး). His parents, Daw Than Swe and U Tun Pe, were hardworking farmers with limited financial means, making education a challenge. However, the monks at the village monastery played a crucial role by supporting his education through high school. Although his teachers disapproved, Sitt Nyein Aye secretly delved into modern art, which eventually became his life’s passion. Despite missing out on a scholarship that would have allowed him to study abroad, his determination drove him to sell artworks on the streets to sustain himself.

Artistic Journey and Activism

Sitt Nyein Aye’s dedication to art often clashed with prevailing norms, earning him the label “mad art” from his teachers. His early years were marked by challenges, including a two-month stint in custody for sketching the ruins of a student union destroyed in 1962. A passionate supporter of Burma’s pro-democracy movement, he faced persecution and chose to live in exile in India. During this time, he further honed his artistic skills and expanded his horizons.

In his twenties, deeply inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace,” Sein Aye adopted the name Sitt Nyein Aye, which translates to “War and Peace.” This transformation reflected his desire to encapsulate the essence of human experiences and conflicts through his art.

Legacy and Influence

Sitt Nyein Aye’s influence in the world of art extended beyond his own creations. He played a pivotal role as a mentor, guiding and nurturing the talent of emerging artists. Notably, Htein Lin, a well-known Burmese painter and performance artist, had the privilege of studying under Sitt Nyein Aye, showcasing the artist’s impact on future generations.


Tragically, on September 1, 2023, the world lost Sitt Nyein Aye, leaving behind a profound legacy in the art world. His dedication, artistic brilliance, and contributions to art and democracy will continue to be celebrated and remembered by many.