In The Flow of Silk

In The Flow of Silk

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24 Sep – 03 Oct 2022
The Muse Artspace
47 Tràng Tiền, Hà Nội

From the organizer:

Much like art in general, the flow of silk painting resides within the flow of Vietnamese culture, and every milestone each generation of silk painters achieved is a key element that extends and shapes the flow.

Silk is a special material in Eastern fine art. Most of today’s painters are trained in Western painting techniques, thus experimenting with silk requires the artist to refashion their mindset and creative process to understand and be effective with the material. For example, applying the same sketch on both oil and silk will produce two paintings with completely different expressive languages. In particular, sketching from a successful oil painting doesn’t necessarily result in an effective outcome with silk. With contemporary silk paintings, the artist is no longer confined to any school or principle, hence they can harness the combined cultural and artistic knowledge of ancient East and West. Having said that, due to the unique properties of the supporting material and the clarity of the pigment, painting on silk cannot be rushed, and requires a certain maturity in both the mindset and the technique. Therefore, silk painting resembles an exercise of body and mind for the artist.

Vietnamese silk paintings were once known for Nguyen Phan Chanh’s silk dyeing technique, and the symbolic painting style in meticulous space, which painters of the Indochinese and later generations had successfully demonstrated, creating important junctures for a dreamy, delicate, and profound Vietnamese silk painting style.

Silk painting had been absent in Vietnam modern art for some time due to the strong development of oil painting and the limitations in composing with this material, which has not yet adapted to the rapid development of social culture during the transitional decades after the Renovation (Doi Moi) period. When standing between the decision to transform or be forgotten, silk faces the uncertainty of survival. Nonetheless, over the past 20 years, silk paintings have revived and evolved vigorously. Many contemporary painters have succeeded and escaped the shadows of the great pinnacles to carry on the flow. Silk paintings are expanded in value whether dyed or undyed, coated or uncoated, with a full range of color nuances, conventions or even realistic depictions, in subjects that are both aesthetic and reflective of contemporary society/philosophy. However, expanding requires experimentation and risk; the artist has to overcome the challenge of creating new values ​​without losing the essence of silk.

Through the flow of contemporary silk, our exhibition would like to introduce various dedicated artists who are researching and practicing with silk. Having diverse inspirations, reasonings and experimental methods, these artists are still relentlessly pursuing the journey of discovering silk through a personal perspective. Within this exhibition, flowers are the focal figures that help transcribe silk in a different outlook.

About the artists:

Phan Cam Thuong is an influential art and culture researcher, critic, educator, and painter in Vietnam. He is the author of numerous works ranging from scholarly research to folklore. His painting practice is mainly surrounded by poonah paper and silk with natural pigments to create a distinguished shade for his work. Phan Cam Thuong’s painting philosophy is not simply about creating art but always accompanied with cultural ideological elements, especially Eastern culture. He currently lives and works in Hanoi.

Nguyen Van Trinh was born in 1991 and graduated from Vietnam Fine Arts University. Through silk and Giang paper, Trinh researched and experimented with pigments and watercolors in realistic, impressive and surreal expressions to explore the irregularity of art along with each of his emotional fragments in contemporary life. Recently, Trinh has started experimenting with painting silk in water.

Artist Le Phuong Dung brought in two paintings she had composed for some time but have never appeared in any exhibition nor seen by the eyes of the public. She painted oriental objects from the house where she used to live. Her works on silk stand out with neon tones on a dark background in a nostalgic space, creating a negative photo effect. Painter Le Phuong Dung lives and works in Hanoi.

Duong Van Chung is a Nung ethnic painter, educator, graduated from Vietnam Fine Arts University in 2002. Chung’s work reflects the life of people in the Northwest in natural scenery. He uses Chinese ink on silk and cultivates slices of life to create miniature settings in the co-present space. Chung’s silk paintings have strong contrasting shades, with deep blacks, close to woodblock prints. Chung currently lives and works in Thai Nguyen.

Nguyen Ha Phuong composed paintings of young maidens on silk. Perhaps Ha Phuong was naturally gifted with the task of portraying Eastern Asia aesthetics on silk. The artist draws numerous women in scenes such as with Tet flowers, knitting clothes, playing in the garden, etc. Phuong’s silk paintings are vivid, succinct, yet affectionate. Phuong’s art practice focuses on re-perceiving reality by positioning oneself in recollection of past journeys.

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