HCMC – Exhibition “In the Midst of Life”

HCMC – Exhibition “In the Midst of Life”

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Ngo Van Sac-In the Midst of Life

Opening: Fri 25 Oct, 6 pm
Exhibition: 25 Oct – 25 Nov 2013
Craig Thomas Gallery

From the organizer:

You are invited to the exhibition “In the Midst of Life”, a solo exhibition of wood burn paintings by Hanoi-based artist Ngo Van Sac.

Ngo Van Sac says that one day he may return to using conventional canvas, but right now he is enchanted by the blocks of fresh, untreated wood that grip his images with rawness. The curved veins in the wood’s surface take the eyes gently up and down the portraits, sneaking into the intricacies of the pictures.

Sac’s making process must involve a lot of planning, but the artworks are never overdone. Minimal color and simple materials prevent visual saturation. Sac pencils the outlines onto the wooden blocks, then blowtorches them, masking off areas with a metal spatula to modulate the color. The burnt images are surprisingly detailed, and fire alone cannot offer such sharpness. A pyrography pen could work for strong lines, but Sac’s imagery is dominated by silhouettes and color gradation, not by linear drawing, so a gas blowtorch works best.

Sac has always painted people. In previous exhibitions, he has shown historical characters with older, wiser faces, or sometimes groups of sitters. This time, he turns inwards. This exhibition probably has more self-portraits by a single artist than any other solo show anywhere. While such a quantity of self-portraits could be construed as self-indulgent, it is actually an honest search, and an expression of personal emotion.

Bicycles, trees and water lilies fade their way into the images, like déjà-vues of a tranquil lifestyle that is almost mythical for the urban youth. Sac grew up in a village 20 kilometers from Hanoi. But childhood has gone. The artist is now a city dweller, for whom peace and nature are as inaccessible as memory. As he puts enough history behind his own life, Sac can appreciate its complexity and translate it into his work. ‘Many small images in the overall big picture bring depth to my work,’ he comments.

The two installation pieces of the collection create the sensation of a flow moving around the wooden shapes. Each prism presents different moods of the artist, under the perspectives of several individuals. The narrative unfolds as the viewer walks around, showing little action. It’s a story of the subtle changes in emotion that come and go all the time.

Craig Thomas Gallery
27i Tran Nhat Duat, Tan Dinh ward, Q.1, HCMC
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 6pm; Sundays 1 to 5 pm; and by appointment

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