KVT – Lionel Descostes Embroidery Exhibition

KVT – Lionel Descostes Embroidery Exhibition

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Beautifully Stitched Up

I think that just about everyone would find something to love at the Bui Gallery’s latest offering. The exhibition is called ‘Ten Years in Hanoi (Embroidery Work)’ which could, perhaps, imply that embroidery sits in the craft category or that the exhibitor is a craftsperson rather than an artist.

Not that this matters as most crafts have always had outstanding and innovative practitioners whose work is prominently displayed in major museums of art throughout the world and nowadays a plethora of artists/craftpersons amalgamate art and craft techniques into their practices and blur the boundaries that purists like to lay down.

Bui exhibitor, Lionel Descostes, has added a new dimension to embroidery in Vietnam not that Vietnam is short of brilliant embroiderers. I’m sure that Descostes would attest to that and quickly name a score or two and much of his work would hold its own any first rate, fine arts gallery.

My favorite works are the abstract ones. The grid of 32 small works that make up “Influences” (2006) are really stunning. Like so much of Descostes work, it’s the presentation that takes the work from excellent to WOW! This is shown to huge effect in another stunning work downstairs, ‘The First One’( 2003) in its lime green lacquer frame that refers to and balances the gorgeously embroidered grid.

Upstairs I was totally captivated and mesmerized by the four ‘Square Sets’(2006) that allow your eyes to journey on, into and through the threads.

When he adds faces and masks to his work he loses me a bit, though I still really love exploring the detailed often layered hand embroidery. I’m in a minority of viewers when I state that the figurative touches don’t move me. Most, though, will drool over the exceedingly clever ‘Mutation’ (2004) and the fascinating ‘Creation’ series (2008).

You can see why the theatrical and attention arresting ‘Competition’ (2005) sold immediately, with its muted silvers and hints of rich red on a black background and a slight resonance, some may suggest, to Klimt .

Anyone with a passion for embroidery would be rather silly to miss this exhibition and likewise any art lovers who just want to see a selection of beautifully displayed, beautiful art.

Prices reflect the creative effort and extremely concentrated work that has gone into each piece and it is the realization of this talented effort that makes you gasp anew.

PS: try to get a look at the very handsome catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.

Not a reviewer, not a critic, “Kiếm Văn Tìm” is an interested, impartial and informed observer and connoisseur of the Hanoi art scene who offers highly opinionated remarks and is part of the long and venerable tradition of anonymous correspondents. Please add your thoughts in the comment field below.


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