miercuri, 9 ianuarie 2008

The art of Tran Long, a fresh dimension of a revitalized Vietnam

Tran Long is principally a sculptor and professor at Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts University. Having for nineteen years lived in Russia, where he received a Ph.D. in art theory and history, seven years ago he returned to Vietnam, where he now lives with his wife (a concert pianist) and their two sons. As his caption illustrates Professor Long is also a poet and as the image above it demonstrates, a brilliant painter, part of a Vietnamese school but a decade old that eschews traditional Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese influence in favor of what might be called a "post-cultural" art. As such it is a fresh dimension of a revitalized Vietnam.

Long's colors are expressive but not expressionistic. His subject is Vietnamese but not programmatically so, as in that Communist art which had embodied political propaganda, or in the popular art of enervated cliches, or in the second-hand work of Vietnam's Francophile stage, or in the charming but retrograde extensions of its native traditions in embroidery, intaglio, laquer painting, woodwork and other more frankly decorative modes, many of which retain their traditional interest.

Instead, Long and his colleagues in this recent body of work, from an artistically independent Vietnam, have discovered a new expressiveness in the sometimes irrational use of primary colors (such as red, or here green, skies; blue, or here red, houses; a yellow earth or here an indigo sea). It is less an expressionism than a personal symbolism, a revolt against the weary expectations of a tradition grown dreary in recent decades from lack of inspiration.

Though professor Long has titled his canvas "Childhood Memories," there is nothing retrospective about its aesthetic. On the contrary, Vietnam is here represented as poised in an exciting present as it looks ahead to a bright artistic future. In this Tran Long is one of its leading lights.


Ký ức. Sơn dầu. 80x80cm (2007)

Hàng ngày tôi phải đi qua nhiều con đường với bao cảnh hối hả, tất bật, chạy ngược chạy xuôi, nhiều âm thanh hỗn độn làm choán hết tâm trí. Không dám nhìn lên trời cũng không dám nhìn xuống đất vì sợ lao vào những chiếc xe đang chạy, sợ đụng phải người đi bên cạnh, sợ vấp phải cái gì đó! Thèm một không gian yên tĩnh để đầu óc thảnh thơi, nhưng không được !
Chợt nhớ về thời còn nhỏ, trên con đường làng nhấp nhô dẫn đến trường học,
bầu trời xanh bao la,
xa xăm,
lặng gió,
một đám mây bằng bàn tay đứng yên,
ngôi nhà màu đỏ,
ụ rơm vàng,
mênh mông,
vắng lặng,
cô đơn,
dang tay nắm lấy khí trời!
một ký ức…
đã qua,
bây giờ không thấy nữa!

Trần Long, tháng 10/2007

For more about MM see http://www.madisonmorrison.com

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