Mystical Topography

Mystical Topography

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09 am – 08 pm, 16 Dec 2023 – 28 Jan 2024
Annam Gallery
371/4 Hai Bà Trưng, Võ Thị Sáu Ward, District 3, HCMC
Ticket price: 70.000 VND

From the organizer:

Dear visitors,

Le Ba Dang (1921-2015) stands as one of the renowned modern Vietnamese artists who gained recognition in Europe in the latter half of the 20th century through a cross-disciplinary visual language system imbued with distinct individuality. Although he lived and practised far from his homeland, his works flourish from the Vietnamese roots, immersed with the Vietnamese identity, ,culture, and history. His practice is built upon meticulous and scientifically rigorous research, creating unique approaches and techniques in handmade paper production, including lithography, serigraphy combined with gilding technique termed “Lebadanggraphie,” and collage and superimposition – mixing sculpture and bas-relief, to create elevated spatial compositions coined as “Spacegraphie.” The latter technique inspired the curatorial concept of this exhibition.

When observed from above, the artworks in the “Spacegraphie” series resemble topographical maps featuring various landscapes, simulating paddy fields, high mountains, or deep seas — an artistic means for the artist to reminisce about his childhood land. Le Ba Dang intricately combined sculptural and painting techniques to create relief engravings on the richly textured layers of specially crafted paper, thereby constructing spatial dimensions that are deep, abstract, and mysterious. Such interdisciplinarity propels “Spacegraphie” beyond the dichotomy of traditional Western painting-sculpture conventions, ushering in a refreshing form of hybrid art.

Another significant curatorial thread lies in the mysticality of the lithograph series “Nature Prays Without Words” (“La Nature prie sans parole”), created in the late 1960s, drawing inspiration from the meditative essence found in Daodejing (道德經) by Lao Tzu. Le Ba Dang seemed to have encapsulated the original Daoist philosophy in abstraction, utilising subdued colours and luminous void in the background that radiates mystery and enchantment. The artist must have aimed to employ indeterminate forms as vocabularies to “enable us to discern and apprehend reality” as well as to reconnect us with the “original unity” and “fundamental nature.” (Cernuschi Museum, France)

We hope that you will have an intriguing time exploring Le Ba Dang’s mystical topography, where one can both experience and contemplate.

Sincerely,
Curatorial Team, Lan Tinh Foundation

About Le Ba Dang:

Le Ba Dang (1921 – 2015) is a renowned French-Vietnamese painter and sculptor. He spent a significant portion of his life in France, the United States, and Japan. At the age of 18, he voluntarily joined the “Indigenous Manpower” (Main d’œuvre indigène, MOI) – a branch of the French Ministry of Labour, driven by his desire to escape poverty in the arid land of Quang Tri.

Having experienced numerous personal upheavals during World War II, he decided to enroll at Toulouse School of Fine Arts (1942-1948), adopting a study-and-work approach. In 1955, the art community began to appreciate Le Ba Dang’s works, catalysing his artistic career with numerous exhibitions in France, the United States, Japan, and other countries. Le Ba Dang had received prestigious awards in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Vietnam, such as the prize by International Institute of Saint Louis (USA, 1989), “International Man of the Year” (International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, UK, 1992), Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature (French government, 1994), and “Resistance War against the United States Medal” (Vietnam government, 2005).

Currently, a repertoir of Le Ba Dang’s artworks are preserved and exhibited at Le Ba Dang Art Museum and Le Ba Dang Memory Space (Hue, Vietnam). Last November, Da Nang Museum of Fine Arts received a donation of 253 Le Ba Dang’s artworks and artifacts by Mr Le Tat Luyen and Mrs Thuy Khue from France.

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