Something old made new again in a female artist exhibition

Van Duong Thanh's exhibition is a breath of fresh air for the Exhibition House in Hanoi because her paintings broach old topics through very new methods.

"This show is a huge 'thank you' to my parents and teachers, as well as the city I grew up in. They've all nurtured me like a mother," Thanh said. "I see architecture as a father and nature as a mother, always complimenting each other. So I always depict old architecture in harmony with nature that surrounds it."

Although her 30 paintings in Van Duong Thanh & Old Gates of Hanoi vary in presentation (25 oil o­n canvas, four lacquer and o­ne silk), they all bear the same subject: Old gates in the capital city and the fresh life they live in.

At the centre of the exhibition is the painting O Quan Chuong (Quan Chuong Gate). The painter says that unlike other paintings about the old gate which normally bear the heaviness of time, her old gate emerges with blue sky and new buds o­n the trees next to it.

The works include gates of old temples such as Ngoc Son, Quan Thanh and Thay Pagoda. Roofs of century-old houses are also represented.

Applying an expressive, semi-abstract style with bright colours and strong brush stroke she paints nostalgic works that inversely afflict viewers not with melancholy, but with hope of the future.

Thanh admitted she was affected by Western painting style but retained strong connections to her homeland through her love of nature.

"I'm happy to see Thanh's mind always turns to her home country. Hanoi in her works looks young and lively," said painter Vu Giang Huong, Thanh's first teacher.

Thanh has also lectured in art since 1989 at the Staffanstorp Museum in Sweden, where some of her works have been displayed.

Attending the opening ceremony was Lennarth Nordstrom, Charge d'Affaires a.i. of Swedish Embassy in Hanoi, who said Van Duong Thanh was an asset to both Vietnam and Sweden since apart from being a painter, she, as a lecturer, has helped thousands of Swedish and foreign students in Sweden appreciate Vietnamese art.

Thanh is o­ne of the most recognised female artists in Asia. After graduating in 1980 from the Hanoi Fine Arts College she went to study and work in France and Sweden.

Thanh had her paintings displayed at Viet Nam Fine Arts Museum at the age of 21. Today her paintings are displayed at national museums in Thailand, Singapore and Sweden.

Thanh returns twice a year to the country to work o­n new paintings and exhibit completed paintings. 

Viet Nam News