Exhibition “Neo-Expressionism”

Exhibition “Neo-Expressionism”

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Opening: Wed 03 Apr 2019, 5 pm
Exhibition: 03 – 28 Apr 2019, 9 am – 12 pm and 1.30 – 5 pm
VICAS Art Studio
32 Hao Nam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi

From the organizer:

You are invited to a group exhibition by Nguyen Van The, Pham Thanh Toan, Hoang Khanh Du, Dang Thanh and Le Thua Ngoc Hai.

Neo-expressionism, sometimes called Junge Wilde or Neue Wilden (new wild), which appeared in the late 70s, was inaugurated by a group of German painters including Georg Baselitze as the leader and the other well-known artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lupertz, Eugen Schonebeck and AR Penck. It was developed as a reaction against minimalism and conceptualism which were dominating European art at the time which concerned things far from reality and the sensuousness of art. Neo-expressionism then spread to various countries in Europe and flourished in the US with important artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Elizabeth Murray… In everyday language, this movement is also called “bad painting”.

Human, sexuality, mythology and history were the popular topics of the movement’s predecessors. Later, both political and psychological issues were also included.

An important contribution to the artistic development of neo-expressionism was the artistic language because the artists were influenced by some of the main points of postmodernism, such as popularity (in contrast to academism and scholasticism) or instinct/unconsciousness (instead of ideology and rigid concepts)…

Neo-expressionism is identified with some characteristics below:

1) It is the figurative art in a raw and brutish manner with symbolic features (like prehistoric drawings)
2) Artists express their emotions very instinctively and straightforward with quick, strong and fierce brushwork intermingling with vivid, violent, often intense areas of colors
3) The works often contain unconscious projections of the artists
4) The works are usually in large sizes

The five artists selected in this group exhibition are those who, in my opinion, have rather clear tendency of neo-expressionism. Some just follow the spontaneity and instinct while others intentionally do research about neo-expressionism on the Internet; in any way, their painting language all has the same reference with the language of the neo-expressionism predecessors around the world. It is their contribution to make the language of neo-expressionism today more diverse and more personalized.

1. Nguyen Van The is a self-taught painter, who went through an abstract time and switched to a new painting style (of course, he did not have any concept of neo-expressionism, but the instinct of artists led him to this drawing), so the echo of the abstract style is still mixed in his new series in the sprawling and transformative colors. His symbolic strokes flew unobtrusively with the rhythm of jazz. No matter what he drew (the hen, the bird salesman, or the fishman …), his paintings are always charismatic.

2. Pham Thanh Toan is a very young artist (born in 1992) but has learned from major neo-expressionism artists consciously. He understood and mastered the spirit and the characteristics of this style to gather them all and create his own works. The unconscious obsessions are always somewhere in his paintings, such as death obsession, thoughts on eternity, dreams of flying high, nightmares of free fall, big scenes full of colors, sounds and sexuality that only seen in big dreams (expression of collective unconsciousness)… He always painted on super large sized surface filled of rough and fierce brushwork. Headless puppets often appear in his paintings as a symbol of the emptiness lack of human souls, which is the constant concern in this time.

3. Hoang Khanh Du is a Tay-ethnic painter and his surreal paintings always depict his ethnic world. There are two parallel worlds that always exist and are closely related, one is the mundane life and the other is the metaphysical world of gods and our ancestors. The humanoid figures were drawn according to the symbolic way mixed with the real figures of the world we live in. The division of space and the relationship between them are also symbolic, making his own style.

4. Dang Thanh is a special case. Just one year ago, he was seriously in illness (which, according to him, were autism, depression and nearly crazy state) with very difficult financial situation. However, he managed to overcome all difficulties by painting. He learnt how to “forget” what he studied at university, figuring out his own style and accordingly drawing whatever he imagined such as drifting cloud and flowing water. With just a few colors and quick strokes, he created a work. This time, he brought to the exhibition a series of paintings about women, with quite a feminist thought: Why are all pleasures in this world only for men?

5. Le Thua Ngoc Hai is a young artist who loves to draw “bad paintings”. Perhaps there was an accumulation of negative realities of society in his mind and every time he drew, he must express all. The chairs symbolizing social power and those who desire to occupy it along with the people with wings wanting to fly high but unable to escape from that reality frequently appear in the series named “Wings” in this exhibition. I think that is the complicated and contradictory inner of the artist himself and also of many others in our society today. The colors of his paintings are somewhat cold, but the layered and proper drawing, especially with unconscious brushwork on the surface, makes his paintings more of romantic than gloomy.

Hanoi, March 20, 2019
Dr. Bui Quang Thang, Art Director, Vicas Art Studio

Free entry

VICAS Art Studio
32 Hao Nam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 9 am – 12 pm and 1.30 – 5 pm, Monday – Sunday


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