Exhibition “Following in Footsteps: A Father and Son’s Journey through Art”

Exhibition “Following in Footsteps: A Father and Son’s Journey through Art”

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Opening: Thu 19 Sep 2019, 5.30 pm
Exhibition: 19 Sep – 31 Oct 2019
Opening hours: 9:30 – 18:30 from Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday
Cuci Art Studio
Level 2, 25 Hang Bun, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

From the organizer:

You are invited to exhibition, “Following in Footsteps: A Father and Son’s Journey through Art”, a story of the lives and careers of two painters who are father and son, Luc Quoc Nhuong and Luc Quoc Sy. They represent a rare phenomenon within contemporary Vietnamese social contexts of a family’s continuation from generation to generation of an art practice that is “art for art’s sake”.

Cuci Art Studio will be introducing 56 oil paintings by Luc Quoc Nhuong and 18 lacquer paintings by Luc Quoc Sy.

In the Vietnamese art scene, there are not many artists devoted to their profession the way Luc Quoc Nhuong and Luc Quoc Sy are. After many years, they still pour all of themselves into their art as they did on the very first day, no matter how many other directions their lives might take.

In terms of art practice, particularly, the two artists have much in common, not only because they are father and son, but because they both share the same pure love toward the arts. When creating their works, both let emotion and self-expression be their driving force, and they pursue their own artistic identity without letting any mundane daily “concerns” of gains and losses get in the way or intrude onto their canvas or lacquer panels. They happily accept the fact that their paintings do not conform with commercial styles, which also means their art is difficult to sell. And that is why their work is called true “art for art’s sake”.

In each of his exhibitions, Luc Quoc Nhuong always brings surprises to art lovers. No matter what material he uses, be it lacquer, charcoal, Dó paper, or oils, viewers can always recognize his art for its distinctive style. Painter, Nguyen Dinh Phuc, once commented on Luc Quoc Nhuong’s paintings: “extraordinary, indeed extraordinary!”. In the field of art, being “extraordinary” means being original, having the unique “fingerprint” which every artist yearns for but rarely achieves.

The “extraordinary” of Luc Quoc Nhuong’s art is expressed in many different ways, but the most noticeable is in the freedom of its creativity. As shared by the artist, Luc Quoc Nhuong liberated himself from all limits of technique, from the conventional ways of painting, only to let his emotions overflow the canvas surface completely and naturally. This, perhaps, is why his works are highly improvisational, bringing a rich visual impression in terms of color, shape, texture, figurative contouring, etc.

When looking at his paintings, viewers may be startled or astonished at the round, square, triangular shapes which are boldly “dropped” side by side each other but still ultimately create a composition that is pleasing to the eye; or by the use of black and white colors which may be interpreted as “violent” and “cruel” but still not create the feeling of being “suffocated” thanks to the harmonious composition and the application of “just enough” added colors. “I want to use the least to tell the most!” said the artist about his black-and-white, or rather, almost black-and-white paintings.

One of the themes throughout Luc Quoc Nhuong’s artistic path is the concern for humanity which is always “heavily loaded” in each of his works. He uses the soaring variables of colors, shapes, and lines to depict the realities of society, even including those “hidden areas” or fluctuating periods in history full of fleeing and scenes of separation. His paintings express a constant, anxious concern for individuals who are living on the lowest rungs of the ladder, a deep sympathy for their strenuous, uncertain, wretched lives.

Such stories are told through painting which can make our hearts heavy, and involuntarily make us relate to the life of the artist himself. Although Luc Quoc Nhuong once said that the hardships of life and the turbulent events and chaos of life outside the studio have never affected his artistic creation, it’s unlikely that the artist would have such great empathy towards the downtrodden, and in turn give his works such a profound humanity and meaning that moves our hearts.

In “Following in Footsteps: A Father and Son’s Journey through Art”, Luc Quoc Sy appears as a hyphen, connecting many meanings without which, viewers would not be able to fully experience the journey of life and the persistent vocation of painting of the two artists. Two generations of artists, a father and a son, have chosen to follow the same path of art for art’s sake.

Like father like son, Luc Quoc Sy naturally came to art after several years assisting his father, painter Luc Quoc Nhuong, by working on his lacquer paintings. Under his father’s influence, he gradually found himself a distinctive visual language which is noted for its simplicity and innocence. Witnessing the precarious, harsh life of a painter to earn a living by working with his father, he has built himself a fairly safe barrier from the outside world by leading a carefree life doing many different jobs to make a living while persistently pursuing his passion for art.

He paints instinctively, using strong, simple, and powerful brushstrokes. The intensive colors in his paintings evoke hidden feelings which could not be conveyed in words. The main difference from his art with his father’s is that lacquer is still his only passion, despite people’s saying only those who have a strong financial foundation should pursue this kind of painting. Not to mention, Luc Quoc Sy has chosen a very expensive and most laborious way of painting lacquer by only using Son Ta (Vietnamese traditional lacquer materials) and refusing to use industrial paints.

“Following in Footsteps: A Father and Son’s Journey through Art” not only tells the story of the lives and careers of the father and son painters, Luc Quoc Nhuong and Luc Quoc Sy, but it also presents for viewers sweet and bitter feelings of the continuity of generations in the fine arts in Vietnam in particular, and Vietnamese society in general.

Luc Quoc Nhuong graduated from the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Art and started painting in 1981. He has had many solo and group exhibitions within Vietnam and abroad. His works are featured in many different collections in Vietnam and many other countries such as: France, USA, Switzerland, Japan, Great Britain, Canada, The Netherlands, etc.

Luc Quoc Sy taught himself painting and also learned from his father. He has taken part in many international art exchange events and exhibitions, and is a member of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association.

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