Artist's mystic works unite humanity and nature

June 10, 2022 - 10:14

Acclaimed artist Đinh Thị Thắm Poong is showing her new works at an exhibition in Hà Nội.


'Joy from the Rhythm' by Đinh Thị Thắm Poong. Photo courtesy of Art Vietnam Gallery

HÀ NỘI – Acclaimed artist Đinh Thị Thắm Poong is showing her new works at an exhibition in Hà Nội.

Born to an ethnic family in the northwest mountainous Lai Châu Province, Thắm Poong is influenced by her Mường and White Thái heritage.

She graduated in sculpture from the Việt Nam Fine Arts University and has received several prizes for her artworks from the culture ministry.

Since her first solo exhibition in 1997, she has become popular with the public for her paintings depicting the daily life of ethnic groups on traditional handmade (poonah) paper.

In this exhibition entitled Vàng và Bóng Tối (Gold in the Darkness), she introduces paintings which have matured and taken on a deep symbolism utilising a surreal response to mankind’s connection to the universe.

The palette is rich with soft, warm tones and earthy natural pigments that emerge from the depths of the Hồng (Red) River’s rich alluvial soil, highlighted with extensive use of gold leaf and vivid geometric patterns, according to Suzanne Lecht, the exhibition curator.

“Though the images may appear typical of earlier works, human shapes depicted as in real life,” said Lecht.

“These figures transform into ellipses, spheres, squares, rectangles, and triangles or a typical design pattern of the Thái ethnics. All are in a dreamy movement implying a transition or transmutation from the human sphere into the spiritual realm.”

Thắm Poong’s White Thái mother was a dancer of the Tây Bắc Art Troupe who encouraged her daughter to dance. Thắm Poong doesn’t dance in real life but in painting.

The dance movements are not just for beauty, but as in Dancing with Fans 2022 and Joy from the Rhythm 2022, they embody a much deeper significance as a ceremony to honour nature, the seasons and human life.

The dance-themed paintings all praise the power of dance and song and the delicate balance of humans in nature.

“Thắm Poong's work could be considered in alignment materially and spiritually with the trailblazing female Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1955) or Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) from Mexico,” Lecht said.

“All three of these inventive artists are inspired by spiritualism, modern science, and the riches of the natural world.

“They share a use of nature combined with basic shapes depicting the evolution of interconnectedness, mixing realism with fantasy, a kind of magical realism.”

The exhibition runs until August 6 at Art Việt Nam Gallery, No 2, Lane 66, Yên Lạc Street, Hà Nội.  VNS