|Artist Vương Văn Thạo. Photo thethaovanhoa.vn|
Artist Vương Văn Thạo has been internationally recorgnised thanks to his works Thân Thế Và Những Giấc Mơ (Body and Dreams) and Hóa Thạch Sống (Living Fossil) sculpture series in the year the 2000s. Singapore Art Museum purchased the entire work Living Fossil for its permanent display.
But Thạo is best known for his 'bottom' paintings.
Thể Thao và Văn Hóa (Sports & Culture) daily interviews Thạo about his bottom-themed paintings, which are on display in Hà Nội currently.
Could you tell me why are you interested in this theme?
I graduated Hà Nội Fine Art College in 1995 and I always wanted to draw nude paintings.
I chose this part of a woman's body as the theme of my paintings. To me, its shape is beautiful with minimal line-drawing.
What paint medium do you find suitable for these paintings?
I have experienced different mediums to paint with this theme. Each medium has its own advantages and matches the art concept of the painting. I use watercolour on dó paper making a colour splash featuring a tranquil space.
I also use acrylic to draw on a calendar to show time. And pictures on the calendar are materials for me to draw. I always feel fresh doing this with diversified material sources.
I have experienced forms and mediums in painting. It is not always possible to get desired results. I think it is normal.
These paintings at the Bottom exhibition are fruits of my hard work. And they are my best work at this time.
When did you debut the bottom-themed paintings?
I began to draw this theme in 1996 and my first solo exhibition was at Friend Gallery in 1998. The exhibition was called 'A Half' because of the difficulties caused by social prejudice at that time.
Each painting I draw is about daily life or a personal story. It simply depicts the beauty of a woman's body. My paintings such as Gánh Hàng Rong (Street Hawker) and Vũ Điệu Trăng (Moon Dance) are minimal figures but they inspire other things.
The paintings at my exhibition in Blue Gallery highlights the beauty of Asian woman's souls and bodies.
The current exhibition displays the paintings from 1998 to the present. This is a long time, what has changed in your drawings over this time?
All my paintings with this theme I name Thân Thế Và Những Giấc Mơ (Body and Dreams). The main materials I use are watercolour on dó (poonah) paper and dó on canvas. Additionally, there are some oil-on-canvas and copper sculptures.
I think that life changes over time and the perception of beauty also changes. I continue to paint the beauty of women's bodies and focus on their role in modern society as well.
From the beginning, I was determined to draw bottom-themed paintings showing off my thoughts about the life and beauty of women. The current paintings quite differ from the old ones. They are minimal in shape and colour.
Plus, I continue to make Living Fossil sculptures with composite for selling to reinvest into my art.
Could you tell me more about the Living Fossil series?
I had the idea for Living Fossil in 2004 and completed the two first works in the Việt Nam Museum of Fine Arts in 2006. After that, I had a solo exhibition with fossil-themed works in 2009 at the French Cultural Centre.
Then, Singapore Art Museum bought the fossil series for its collection in 2007. Presently, I make new sculptures with wood aiming at expressing human inner power. It changes over time, smouldering and blazing.
Some artists repeat themself. How do you move beyond repeating yourself in your art?
I think it is the artist's personal point of view and he takes responsibility for it. Most newly-graduated students want to create their own path. Surely, not everyone can do so. They will stop doing art soon because they have to earn living.
Some others gain success after a long time of hard work. I think that when the artist begins to copy himself he knows and he accepts it. There are two reasons; one is that his creativity is the climax, or he is nurturing the ideas. He needs to take a long time to continue his creativity. — VNS