HCM CITY — The 13th solo exhibition of artist Trần Nhật Thăng has opened in HCM City with the title Miền không (Emptiness).
He is displaying more than 30 large paintings, and the biggest is Miền xanh số 5 (Green Land No 5), 130cm by 480cm, a combination of six panels.
Thăng, 50, has been known as an abstract painter since studying at the Việt Nam Fine Arts University. He fell in love with abstract art when he was a fourth-year student in 1994.
From 1994 to 1998, he started researching materials such as dó (Poonah) paper on canvas, sawdust, sand, rope, spray paint, gasoline on oil paint, and many techniques for creating different effects.
He returned to two minimalist colours: red and black, three years later. In 2008, he held a solo exhibition, Portrait of Freedom, only in black and white. But from here, he took 10 years out and painted nothing. In 2018, he returned with the exhibition Miền (Land), including 40 paintings depicting many sad moods.
He then paused again for four years. Now, he has mastered the principle of living his life on his own terms, and he has returned to the attitude of drawing whatever he wants.
“Because he doesn’t lock himself in a creative ideal, because he doesn’t force himself to draw like that to be professional or talented, Thăng’s painting never falls into a state of the struggle of the ups and downs or goes as low as before. Each picture he paints is a new wind, flexible and gentle,” said painter Lê Thiết Cương.
Trang Hạnh, owner of HAKIO – Let’s an Art gallery where the exhibition is taking place, said: “Personally, I am fascinated by the quiet atmosphere and peaceful feeling one gets when looking at Thăng’s paintings.”
The works in the exhibition have the same message. Whether it is clear in the morning with early dew drops, melancholy at sunset with wild sun streaks, or passion in the afternoon with rays of sunlight sparkling like pure gold, everything is filled with a simple atmosphere of silence and peace.
“It is a feeling of wandering somewhere in front of mother nature, so gentle because it is so majestic!. It’s so peaceful because it’s so wild,” Hạnh said.
For decades since stepping into a painting, he has followed only one path, faithfully following his own approach to abstract painting.
For Thăng, there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. It’s happiness to live and make art.
“This time, Thăng’s exhibition is in a monochrome palette, mainly black and white with grey and ivory white variations. Occasionally they highlight a certain colour, for example, a red streak or a piece of dotted ocher. Or there are the one-tone blue-white paintings of Chu Đậu ceramics or bleu de Hue-style ceramics,” said Cương.
Talking about current inspiration, Thăng said his abstraction is minimalist painting.
“It is close to stillness. Abstraction is painting without form, and it does not represent. It goes through the visible to feel, and it goes through the tangible of the phenomenon of the visual to the emotion to feel,” he said. “The beautiful nature inspired me to paint, and Buddhism gave me the ideology to send messages to the artwork.”
Thăng now finds happiness in ordinary life and everyday things. Although using acrylic as his main method, the artist still enjoys mixing other materials on canvas to create a special point of view
In some paintings, the artist scatters gold, in others, he attaches bird feathers. For him, neither art nor life is flat.
“The folds, stumbling blocks, and rough lines sharpen our touch, enriching our living experience,” Thăng said.
In Brown Abstract, he places a worn piece of brocade cloth in the middle of the picture, surrounded by streaks of colour mixed with hilly soil.
“This is my heart, a person who has left Hà Nội and is now soaked in the love of his compatriots,” he said.
The exhibition will run until April 30 at HAKIO – Let’s Art, at No 38, Trần Cao Vân Street, HCM City. — VNS