Words and images by Nguyễn Đức Tùng for Hanoi Grapevine and VCCA
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Delicate but still full of inner strength, each artwork can be seen as an invitation to the audience to a particular emotional area. The three young artists explore different uses of simple everyday materials to convey their personal thoughts about the past in the present context. This exhibition is a part of “VCCA Young Artist Incubation Program 2019”, available until the November 25th, 2019.
Huge mixed media painting “The field” (3mx12m) by Đoàn Văn Tới
At the entrance of the exhibition area, the audience will encounter an immense scene of a barren field and the seed beds that look towards the gray sky. The scene is somewhat tragic that can make us drown even more in sorrow when approaching and looking at the ruggedness, architecture spread throughout the surface of the painting.
Layers of Paint combined with soil, stone, sand, sawdust, glass and ash
Artist Đoàn Văn Tới’s inspiration to make the work is from the image of harvest fields in childhood memories. For the children at that time, the field was like a playground. But in the context of development and the impact of urbanization, these “fragments” of memories have gradually disappeared, replaced by factories, industrial constructions,…Đoàn Văn Tới has minimized the technical elements, focusing on depicting the feeling of being unsteady and hovering in front of the old beauty that has been “invaded” by the modern values. The choice of collecting materials from construction sites or sawmills also has a significant meaning in the process of making the work, while also clarifying the message he want to convey.
Temporarily leaving the vast space of Đoàn Văn Tới, let’s shrink to enter the world that Châu Lê Hoàng Gia created.
“Window” (left) and “Corridor” (right)
“The the split window” (left) and “A room” (right)
The writer personally enjoyed the arrangement inside the exhibition place of Châu Lê Hoàng Gia – the youngest of the three artists. The room is quite dark, the light focused on the works that just highlighted them while still giving the viewer a sense of sophistication – not showy but still attractive and suggestive. Gia has lived and worked in many different provinces and cities, and in every place he has concerns about his true position in the surroundings. In the journey to “find” himself, Gia looks for materials that are closely related to life, including the linden tree and Litsea – a tree associated with his family’s livelihood in Gia Lai. Gia crushed the leaves of the two plants above to make paint. “Litsea leaves produce mucus, which I used as a solvent to bind pigments to create paintings. Light green is of the leaves of Litsea, dark green is the color of linden leaves.”
The meticulous and of Châu Lê Hoàng Gia through the carvings on the trunk of Litsea.
As a multimedia artist starting from the classical music, Hà Thúy Hằng is inspired by Vietnamese traditional theater arts. She wants to emphasize the value of feeling life slowly in contrast to the rapid pace of life development today.
“Lingering Sensations” was performed live on the opening day of the exhibition which is a combination of electronic sounds (sound of musical instruments recorded by artisans and sounds made by Hà Thúy Hằng herself) with the body movement of People’s Artist Mẫn Thu as the female general Đào Tam Xuân. In the music environment of Hà Thúy Hằng, the movements of the People’s Artist Mẫn Thu seem to achieve the effect of “slow motion”, becoming condensed, concise and full of sensuality, escaping from the context of the heroic story of the general.
Hà Thúy Hằng also lets the audience to interact with traditional materials in their own way. Audiences are invited to create music from the “music box” pre-installed in the exhibition room, combined with a direct experience from the video screen recording the traditional performances of Đào Tam Xuân. Thereby the audience is both the creator of the music piece and can feel the “lingering sensations” of sound and images on their own.
Readers can watch the performance of People’s Artist Mẫn Thu with “Lingering Sensations” here.