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Raquelle Azran Vietnamese Contemporary Fine Art

Hanoi/New York/Tel Aviv


exhibition title: Of This And Other Worlds:Vietnamese Fine Art

featuring: watercolour paintings on handmade do paper by Vu Thu Hien and Dinh Thi Tham Poong

venue: Bankside Gallery (next to Tate Modern), 48 Hopton St London SE1 9JH

dates: September 26 – October 7, 2007, open daily 11 am – 6 pm

Hien and Poong, young women in their thirties, reside and work in Hanoi. For both, painting has been their occupation for over a decade, and both have enjoyed acclaim in solo and group shows in Europe, the US and Asia. Graduates of the same class (1993) at the Hanoi Academy of Fine Arts, both painters possess a solid grounding in classical Western art, which, when melded with Vietnamese artistic sensibilities, imbues their work with a rich texture of East and West, past and present, spiritual and mundane.

Vu Thu Hien weaves Modigliani into her portrayals of real and spiritual beings, and Dinh Thi Tham Poong quotes Magritte in her narratives and paradoxes of women and families. Both bear witness to Matisse in their use of perspective and palette.

Female figures and nature, and their interdependence, are central to both painters’ works. The faces are schematic, averted or otherwise disguised, as these are ‘Everywoman” whose centrality is not incidental: Vietnamese society, throughout the centuries, has depended upon women’s agricultural labors, while the menfolk were occupied in repelling foreign invaders, from near and far. Nature is signified by flora and fauna, forests and fishes. Poong’s women, wearing red headdresses and clothing typical of the Hmong rural minority, glide through forests, half hidden by trees, as they engage in traditional women’s work of sowing and gathering. Hien’s women, swathed in ceremonial pagoda red, address the spirit world while performing ancient rites.

It is worth noting that only in recent years have women achieved a place of note in the contemporary Vietnamese art scene. As artists have always been held in high esteem in Vietnam, the recent success of women in the arts is indeed a large step forward, and indeed works by Hien and Poong are featured in a current two year traveling museum exhibition in the US.

The exhibition is curated by Raquelle Azran, a collector, curator and gallerist of Vietnamese contemporary fine art.