Exhibition “Of Scented Reverie”

Exhibition “Of Scented Reverie”

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Opening: 06:30 pm, Fri 01 Mar 2024
Exhibition: 09:00 am – 08:00 pm, 02 – 31 Mar 2024
Annam Gallery
371/4 Hai Bà Trưng, Võ Thị Sáu ward, D.3, HCMC
Entrance fee: 70.000VNĐ/person

From the organizer:

Annam Gallery and Lân Tinh Foundation cordially invite the audience to explore the retrospective exhibition of the late artist Tú Duyên (1915-2012) – “Of Scented Reverie”. The exhibition showcases 18 artworks, including creations on silk alongside a series of paintings employing the renowned “Thủ Ấn Họa” technique (hand-stamped print) of the late artist Tú Duyên.

“Of Scented Reverie” is inspired by the woodblock printing technique, combining the usage of hands to mix and layer varying intensities of colours. These techniques were meticulously researched and innovated by Tú Duyên under the name “Thủ Ấn Họa” over 80 years ago. “Of Scented Reverie” evokes a nostalgic, gentle, and poetic space, with aesthetic subjects including various flowers alongside beautiful Vietnamese women, gracefully adorned in traditional Áo Dài, accompanied by traditional musical instruments. Despite the passage of many years, the colours in the paintings remain vivid and capable of stirring the minds and emotions of viewers, as noted by journalist Văn Quang: “The colours of the artworks undergo true transformations, each change bringing about a unique fascination. Therefore, the viewer never feels visually fatigued.”

For the “Of Scented Reverie” exhibition, it can be said that the Lotus, the Sunflower, and the Lily are Tú Duyên’s favourite flowers, recurring prominently in his paintings, depicted from various perspectives. There are budding Pink Lotuses stretching eagerly, awaiting their blossoming amidst a pond, or resilient and robust Sunflowers standing against the wind. Also featured is a vase of vibrant and lightly fragrant Lilies placed beside the solemn figure of the Buddha.

These floral motifs symbolise beauty, elegance, and gentleness, reflecting the graceful and refined demeanour of Vietnamese women as portrayed skillfully by Tú Duyên via juxtaposing floral imagery with beautiful Vietnamese women clad in flowing Áo Dài in his paintings. In various settings, they seem to immerse themselves in old songs and melodies played on traditional Vietnamese musical instruments such as the 16-String Zither, the Moon Lute, or the Pipa – the representative instruments of Vietnamese traditional music.

About artist

Tú Duyên (1915-2012) born Nguyễn Văn Duyến, is widely recognised under the pseudonym Tứ Duyên, derived from a phonetic adaptation of his name juxtaposed with that of his close friend – Đỗ Văn Tư. Despite this, his artwork collectors often referred to him as Tú Duyên.

Raised in a Confucian family in the artistic enclave of Bát Tràng, Bắc Ninh, Tú Duyên’s upbringing profoundly influenced his artistic sensibilities and unique creative style. Between 1935 and 1938, he passed the entrance exam and attended preparatory classes at l’École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine (Indochinese College of Fine Arts). However, in 1939, he had to discontinue his studies and relocated with his family to Saigon. A pivotal moment in Tú Duyên’s career came in 1942 when he innovated “Thủ Ấn Họa” technique (hand-stamped print), an adaptation of traditional Vietnamese woodblock printing, distinguished by its function and highly artistic sophistication.

In 1950, Tú Duyên’s “Thủ Ấn Họa” artworks attained remarkable refinement and intricacy. His first solo exhibition of this series in March 1953 at the Saigon Opera House marked a significant milestone in the recognition of his artistry. In 1955, he received the top prize at the Southern Art Awards for his “Thủ Ấn Họa” portrayal of historical figure Trần Bình Trọng, titled “Would rather be a devil of the South (than be a king of the North).” Notably, his 18th solo exhibition of “Thủ Ấn Họa” paintings took place at Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum in late 1996. In 1997, he was awarded a medal from Vietnam Fine Arts Association, and then the medal for the Cause of Vietnamese Literature and Arts from Vietnam Union of Literature and Arts Association in 1999.

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