KVT in the midst of a season colored by Ha Manh Thang
If I was lucky enough to own a small art gallery like The Dong Phong in Ly Dao Thanh Street there’d be no better way to start a new solar new year, or end a lunar new year, than to host an intimate exhibition of recent work by Ha Manh Thang
A couple of days ago I bumped into the artist when I was at another excellent and unmissable exhibition at the Goethe Institute where he was concentrating on viewing embroidered Imperial costumes from the Nguyen Dynasty that had been lucky enough to have been rescued and kept in safe places.
Two of Ha Manh Thang’s series over the past couple of years have featured aspects of Hue, the dynastic capital. One, HEAVEN IS A PLACE, at both Galeries Quynh in TPHCM in 2013 was centered on the realities and mythologies of iconic buildings in Hanoi and Saigon, and Hue
Another exhibition, FADING DREAMS, DISINTEGRATING REALITIES featured representations of Imperial costumes and was previewed At Manzi before a major show in Bangkok this year
The small grouping at Dong Phong also has Hue as a very beautiful focus on one wall that revisits the Heaven is a Place series that sometimes had the Icons sitting atop, or being converged by maze like hazards….
….. and populated with mythical Ky Lan creatures, as shown below from one of those works.
Ha Manh Thang, unlike many other artists, does not have definite end dates to series of work, rather they are ongoing and in the Dong Phong show the works have evolved from three series
I am really fascinated by Ha Manh Thang’s occasional forays into white on white and apart from the delicious large canvas above there is another small work on paper from another series FAR IN THE NORTH which featured temples in northern areas overlaid with paint, sometimes impasto. (more at this link)
With the Heaven series Thang began to use visual architectural perspective lines in a lot of his work and in both these white pieces the lines, and other outlines, are painted or inscribed, almost like phantoms or past memories.
This work on paper is another from the series.
It’s the filtered colors of weak sunned wintry days when temperatures shiver into the low teens, when morning mists hover, and when drizzly rain oft times intervenes that make up the theme of this show
With the haziness and dissolve that moves through much of Ha Manh Thang’s recent works it would have been an easy task to choose works, or for him to create works, to fit the season.
FADING DREAMS, DISINTEGRATING REALITIES was the series sourced for two more works on paper, both of which have an ethereal landscape feel as a golden triangle floats above what could be water drenched forests towards cloud tinged skies.
In one, popular work on paper, sparkle paint highlights where dark grey timidly tinkers around a blue so deep that you could plunge into it…a blue that occasionally sears through the artist’s landscapes
Smack bang in the middle is the second canvas in the show which seems to coalesce many of Ha Manh Thang’s colors that he’s utilized over recent years.
Whereas all the other works lull you with their softness, this one almost jars the senses. Although it took time for it to latch onto me- it wasn’t too long before it tendrilled and climbed into my imagination until it became a sort of representative of the 12 wintry seasons that I’ve spent in Hanoi- when winter decided to wane into spring and when that season’s colors veiled themselves through mua xuan, hinting at the brashness of inevitable summer.
The work of Ha Manh Thang usually sends me into reveries that induce poetic imagery and his work at Dong Phong is certainly poetic.
Prices of paintings, ranging from $2 000 to$10 000, reflect the international regard in which Ha Manh Thang is held.
|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.|