Most of the pictures are a reflection of conditions which the artists had to endure during their imprisonments, while others are inspired by missing loved ones.
At the exhibition venue on Saturday afternoon, a woman in her late 20s stood still, fixing her eyes at a painting that depicts a downcast figure in prison uniform squatting in his cell with a guard tower in the background.
A man a few meters away captured a pencil portrait of a young girl entitled “My Daughter” on his iPad. In one corner of the hall, a Buddhist monk was immersed in reading an inmate's personal correspondence that had been turned into a collage.
But, to some admirers' dismay, most of the paintings were not for sale as they represent a poignant time of the artists' lives, said Sanny.
Ian Holliday, a professor from Hong Kong University and a scholar on Burmese politics, was one of the audience members who wanted to buy a painting by Min Ko Naing.
“I fully understand if Min Ko Naing's works are not for sale. I just wanted to ask a polite question,” he told The Irrawaddy by email. “I did ask because I like his art.”
The organizers said they would sell duplicates of the paintings on the last day of the show to compensate those disappointed by the not-for-sale policy.
"I understand their feelings. Of course, creations during their prison terms mean a lot to the artists. This exhibition shows political activists who have endured hardships can also create art,” said a woman after offering to buy the Suu Kyi portrait collage.
Minutes later, she made a beeline to a large white vinyl board made available for any visitor to jot down their comments. She picked up a marker to wrote “some political prisoners are still inside.”
When asked if she would reveal her identity, she replied, “I can't tell you that much because I'm a government official.” And then she left the Amnesty Prison Art Show 2012 venue.