|Evolving: Helene Kling in front of one of her acclaimed artworks. — Photo courtesy of Helene Kling
by Vo Le Hong
French artist Helene Kling wears her paintbrush on her sleeve - as it were - and her deeply felt love for Viet Nam is on show this month at her latest exhibition Reve de Fer - Dreams of Iron.
The irrepressible zeal she feels for her adopted country can be experienced by visiting her all-in-one house, gallery, studio and art school in HCM City's District 2.
"I want to show the passion that Viet Nam has instilled in me. I paint my impressions to capture this country. Through my paintings people can feel the soul of Viet Nam and my love for this country. Viet Nam has a beauty and constant change that makes it so special," says Kling.
Her creativity has been driven by the emotions she experienced here, where "every tear that fell in happiness, joy or sadness has instantly found its expression through my paintings and has been translated in color and material," she said.
Kling left Paris in 1996 to live in Viet Nam and spent the next 17 years honing her artistic talents.
On arrival she pursued her first passion, photography, then she turned to painting, developing her skills with a paintbrush through the earthy medium of oil on canvas.
"I think Viet Nam, specifically in HCM City, is where an artist like me can do whatever I want and to earn a living. I can paint, sell my art pieces and teach people."
In 2007, the artist summed up her first decade of artwork in Viet Nam through the collection of paintings entitled Dragon Tears, then in 2011 published a second book My Art Beat for VN.
|Reflective: The ethnic woman in "H'Mong Fleuri".
She has held a number of solo exhibitions to date in HCM City, featuring Viet Nam's landscapes - and the women who reside in them - from mountainous Sapa in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south.
In her three-storey house people can see images of women of many ethnicities and of all ages, portraits telling their own stories.
"My artistic research covers both a reflection of a woman's image and the situation of women in different societies. I have lived in Viet Nam since 1996 and I have seen the evolution of women and their roles in this country. Vietnamese women are the essence of the land; they are its beauty, its strength and its intelligence," Kling explains.
"A woman is a mother, a daughter; she is active, loving and a lover, but still more or less used. In certain countries she is an image without a spirit used for its beauty, in others she is hidden because of her spirit and her beauty. Through my art, I decided to represent women in all her forms," she added.
Apart from her great passion for making art, Kling has held painting classes for both adults and children since 2000.
In class she inspires and instructs students of all ages on how to mix colors, how to use acrylic, gesso, gold leaf, or different media, painting techniques and expression, and once a year Kling exhibits her student's work.
Budding artists can attend her classes which run from 8am to 1pm on Tuesday and Thursday (for adults) and from 3pm to 6pm or 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (for children).
Her paintings can be viewed at 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCM city. —VNS