Opium web


This canvas ‘The Opium Parallax’ (2.24m x 4.0m) by Burmese artist Sawangwongse Yawnghwe was shown at the 2019 Asia Art Biennial in Taichung. It charts, in a loose way, the opium trade’s connections between governments, diplomats, countries, gangs and other parties. I found it quite fascinating.

Especially as ‘Mr. Nice’ (Howard Marks), a notorious British drug smuggler (albeit with cannabis), began his career when he was handed a diplomatic bag containing drugs. I read somewhere that he was just helping out a student friend who was ill at the time and unable to collect the parcel. This led to a lifelong career and many years in prison.

Among interesting names mentioned on the canvas are: Mafia, French connection, Legs Diamond, European diplomats, banking sector, jade & gem dealers, Playboy, Golden Triangle, secret society, casino, human trafficking, to name just a few. Make of it what you will. It certainly had me absorbed for longer than almost any other works of art.

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