Artist reflects heritage of streets on the edge of development

December 26, 2022 - 12:10
An exhibition marking 10 years pursuing arts by artist Nguyễn Minh will start on December 25 in Hà Nội.


Minh started his career with inspiration from street scenes, reflecting on urban development and heritage, discovering new things and searching for his ego. Photo courtesy of the artist

HÀ NỘI - An exhibition marking 10 years pursuing art by artist Nguyễn Minh will open on December 25 in Hà Nội.

The 40-year-old will showcase 50 selected works in various materials including watercolour, oil on canvas, lacquer and mixed media, and installation art in Nhịp Phố (Melodies of Streets), his second solo exhibition.

Minh started his career with inspiration from street scenes, reflecting on urban development and heritage, discovering new things and searching for his ego.

He continuously expands his observation and research into social life as well as artistic practice. At the same time, he has walked on a path that gradually led from the outer to the inner.

It’s 10 years since he first released street-inspired artwork for his graduate master degree in 2012. Minh has gone through a non-stop creative journey that he divides into three stages.

Mùa Hè (Summer) painted by Nguyễn Minh in 2016. — Photo courtesy of the artist

In the first stage, Minh observes urbanisation, carrying the popular thoughts and nostalgia of the previous era that saw the past lost and replaced in the development process, all of which is shown in Minh's paintings. In this period, he used mainly cubist blocks and genomic shapes with sharp, square, and rational edges.

In the second stage, Minh added feelings and reflections on heritage preservation into his compositions. He is more interested in the existence of the streets in the village and the village in the city, telling the story of heritage preservation in the midst of innovation.

In the third stage, Minh directed his observations from the outside to the inside, creating a personal legacy.

He mastered the manipulation of contrasting pairs to create an overall harmony: strokes - arrays, geometric - organic, clear - solid, translucent - clear, light - dark, delicate and powerful. Contrasting pairs in shaping reflects pairs of opposites in thought: old - new, traditional - contemporary, heritage - progressive, collective - individual.

In this stage, he continues sculpture experiments and combines them with the image of a grain of rice, bringing his art from the two-dimensional world of painting into the three-dimensional sculptural space.

Not stopping there, he created a comprehensive and unique installation. He interweaves the interaction of painting, sculpture and exhibition space to leave many reflections on the audience.

For a long time in the life of Vietnamese painting, the brand "Phố Phái" (Street Scenes by painter Bùi Xuân Phái) has become a powerful "warning" and "threat" for all Vietnamese artists who intend to paint street scenes. There are many painters who followed the path of Phái and were lost in the magnificent and mysterious streets named after Phái.

However, writer Nguyễn Quang Thiều, chairman of the Vietnamese Writers’ Association, remarked that painter Nguyễn Minh is different as he built his own streets, the streets of his time. That's why his colleagues call him by the name "Minh Phố".

“Minh has escaped the great blockade and pressure from the legacy of painter Phái. He has found his own path and is building it step by step and pushing it forward,” said Thiều.

The exhibition will run until December 29 at Exhibition House, 29 Hàng Bài Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội. VNS