An exhibition of works by Nguyen Huy An, titled “Calculus Exercise #6/5” is now on view at Manzi Art Space.
The exhibition presents: “… paintings on Dó paper portraying iconic rural sceneries alongside a continuation of his intriguing experimentation with conceptual writings.” 
These works are low-key, at first site visually and emotionally undemanding, but delicate “serene and poetic” works in color pigment, pencil and watercolor on Dó paper.
The first floor of the Manzi Art Space is occupied by Nguyen Huy An’s “Saying series”, which employ meticulously executed pencil handwriting, illustrated with tiny symbolic and at the same time literal representational images: visual cues to the ‘coded’ meaning of the Vietnamese sayings the artist muses and elaborates on.
Purportedly “…intriguing experimentation with conceptual writings.”, these works are visually pleasing with their stripped-down to its ‘school-level-like’-painstakingly-written lettering of folkloric witticisms and of the artist’s personal response to them.
These are embracing the simplicity of an almost ‘anti-aesthetic’ expression, which is driven by the ‘primitive’ rawness of the used materials.
It is this aesthetic vision of its anti-aesthetic expression that pushes the work to visually transcend the crudeness of its ‘literary’ narrative character and the limitations, immanent to inscribed language.
One is drawn to contemplate these works not so much as properly ‘conceptual writings’, but as ‘post-conceptual’ narrative inscriptions — artistic expressions — where, as in the words of Peter Osborne, “Post-conceptual art articulates a post – aesthetic poetics.”
Nguyen Huy An’s paintings on the second floor of Manzi contain no writings, but are visually ‘descriptive’ of some expressed by the artist mysterious scenes, where the depicted personages and objects are zeroed-in, isolated and reduced to their symbolic poetic presence.
These images exhibit the same meticulousness of touch as in the artist’s handwriting in his “Saying series”: the same deliberate, careful attention to the minutest details of paint application in creating the image.
Seen in this light — in spite of the inherent conceptual contradiction between ‘painting’ and ‘writing’ — one can view the ‘visual descriptions’ of Nguyen Huy An’s paintings as conceptually consistent with the ‘narrative inscriptions’ of his “conceptual writings”, where Nguyen Huy An’s artistic ‘lexicon’ constructs a cohesive visual language in the works of this exhibition to convincingly convey their poetics.
In conjunction with this exhibition the following poetry book (please see the image below), featuring on its cover a work by Nguyen Huy An, is available at Manzi Art Space.
 ,  and  quoted from Manzi Art Space press release: ‘Exhibition “Calculus Exercise #6/5” by Nguyen Huy An’, as published on Hanoi Grapevine
 Peter Osborne, “Contemporary art is ‘post-conceptual art’ “, Public Lecture, Fondazione Antonio Ratti, 9 July 2010.
Text and photos by Ilza Burchett
|Ilza holds the deep conviction that there is nothing more damaging than indifference and that only a critique, based on peer to peer assessment of contemporary art practices, is the way to broaden and encourage the creative thought and new original artistic ideas — fostering a better understanding of contemporary visual art and the role of the artist as a creator of cultural values. Ilza Burchett is an internationally exhibiting artist, now based in Hanoi, Vietnam.|