Thatbinyinyu by Mary Griep
Thatbinyinu - Pagan, Burma - Mixed Media - 8' x 7' - 2003

Thatbinyinyu is a Buddhist temple, one of the 2,229 remaining temples in Pagan, Burma. (There were originally more than 10,000). It is built of brick with stucco overlay and decorations. Closely related to Indian architectural forms, this gu-style building has inner shrines used for meditation, hallways, and stairs which are all shown in a darker value in the drawing. The brick pattern was drawn next. I then covered the brick layer with translucent gesso “stucco” as a base for the exterior decorations, leading to a suggestion of the drawing as an x-ray.

Heavily damaged over the years, often by earthquakes, the temples of Pagan have been restored in a piecemeal fashion that has been widely condemned by art historians. The “gilding” on the top of the various temple stupas is gold paint; the original decorative panels have been replaced with cheap, mass-produced tiles. To represent this shoddy work, the tiles are represented in the drawings by sections of tourist brochures and the gilding of the stupa was done with cheap gold leaf sold at the site to be part of worshippers' offerings. Despite the number of temples in Pagan and the important inscriptions there, the site has not received UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, mainly because of these botched restorations.

Detail & Installation Photos

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