KVT – The Wonderful Lacquer World(s) of Vu Duc Trung

KVT – The Wonderful Lacquer World(s) of Vu Duc Trung

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KVT 2014

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(Vietnamese version available – Đã có bản tiếng Việt)

KVT falls, yet again, under the spell of a lacquer maestro and Dong Phong


When you enter the extra small, extra friendly Dong Phong Gallery in Dao Thanh Street to see the exquisite circular lacquers of Vu Duc Trung your mind may start to whirl especially if you like your abstract art to have some reference point.

Some viewers immediately reference landscapes (even though the artist states that they aren’t quite)


And a buyer who snapped up this beauty definitely said he’d got the best landscape of the lot

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Some viewers see planets of other solar systems

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Others see reflections in deep, still ponds

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While others, like the Swiss buyer who saw the works online and snapped up a beauty, or the two from Thailand who know gorgeous stuff at a gorgeously inexpensive prices is too good to pass up, just wanted to revel in the ever changing stories the pieces contain in their depths.

One online gallery not associated with Dong Phong gallery realizes that lots of buyers need a reference point and thus displays the following beauty -that you won’t see in the current show- as Blue Wildgrass.

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I’ve been a Vu Duc Trung fan for more than 7 years and whenever I’ve come across his lacquer work I’ve lauded it to the max. His last solo was at Mai Gallery and again I praised it highly and I again use a story from that opinion piece that I can’t help but repeat whenever I write about Trung’s atmospheric lacquer works, be they large or small

In 2007 a small, non commercial gallery at the Bookworm’s first shop in Ngo Van So decided to give 26 year old, emerging artist Vu Duc Trung his first solo exhibition and he hesitantly and apprehensively took his works to the gallery and laid them against the walls to experiment just where they’d look best when hung.

A Norwegian woman saw the pictures being carried in and decided she had to have one of the larger ones. Immediately!

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‘How much?’ she asked in heavily accented English.

“Ask the artist’ said the gallery owner. ‘We let the artists set their own prices.’

“How much?’ said the woman, confronting a bewildered Trung

‘Ah ah ah ah ah…$400’ he stuttered in heavily accented English…fixing on a sum that jumped into his head

“Done!’ she exclaimed, ‘but I need it now. My driver’s outside so don’t bother packing it.’ And with that she flourished a pile of dollar bills and exited the gallery.

Thus the prices were set and even before the works were gracing the walls a couple of other passers by had wandered in and snapped up one each, a gallerist had approached Trung to investigate representing him overseas and a reporter had decided to write a feature article about his work in an English language magazine.

So it was that Vu Duc Trung’s lacquers were unleashed on an approving public

In his 2012 solo at Mai Trung introduced two circular works that garnered a lot of murmurs of approval.

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Not that my inexpert photos express the delicate complexities and colors inherent in just about all Trung’s lacquers…only the naked eye manages to do that or a really excellent photographer with a proper camera and lighting.

Hence this amateur image of Trung’s show at Dong Phong indicates how well the works are presented but only hints at their shimmering depths and delicious mystery.


If you want to see the show in its luscious entirety you’ll have to go quick as when passers by and tourists get onto the work they want to take it home immediately and even when I dropped in for my second viewing a day later there was a blank spot next to a red dot and another with a red dot underneath it

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The lacquers in this exhibition come in two sizes and are definitely too reasonably priced (including necessary gallery commission) at $1 400 small as exampled below




And $2 000 for the larger variety, exampled below

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When Trung works with lacquer he always uses traditional lacquer and works in the painstaking traditional way but he has always pushed the medium towards an abstraction that has given him a coterie of followers who, like me, have two or three of his bits that I frequently gaze into and if I bought one of these I’d be gazing pretty frequently.

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It’s an exhibition far too good to miss….and I understand that Vu Duc Trung features in a new art book that is to be launched at Goethe this Thursday evening, so congratulations a second time.

Art and Talent EN

Nine artists: Nguyen Huy An, Bang Nhat Linh, Thai Nhat Minh, Nguyen Phuong Linh, Thai Nhat Minh, Le Hoang Bich Phuong, Ha Manh Thang, Pham Huy Thong, Vu Duc Toan, Vu Duc Trung. The author is interested in their art journeys because she has found that they are distinguished and different to others in their same generation.


Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.


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