The World of Tran Viet Phu — Tran Viet Phu
Edited by Pamela Cheng
In Phu's world, painting is synonymous to breathing, eating and drinking. To Phu, painting does not carry its commonly known meaning. I still recall the conversation I had with Phu at his first sole exhibition at Hanoi Studio in December 1999. He said, "When I paint, I am actually communicating with the objects and sharing their feelings. The dialogues we have are very intimate and special and I would like to share them with the viewers". I was so touched by the honesty and profoundness of this statement and until now remains vividly in my memory.
It is thought often that Phu's favourite theme is characterised by simple everyday life subjects as depicted in his earlier works like "Evening" - pots and pans in the corner of a kitchen. However, having spent time studying his work, Phu's world is in fact limitless. His works of art are not of simple subjects but are of the powerful and boundless feelings he miraculously expresses and effectively conveys to the viewers.
As a person, Phu gives and impression of being simple and shy - a man of few words. However, viewing the works of this lonely person often offers numerous surprises. Standing in front of Phu's paintings, one can hear the lyrical voices from deep down his heart. A clear message of Phu's indefinite world is felt. A world so personal and peaceful, a world so very different from ours. Phu's work brings out the inner peace in each of us. It enables us to return to feeling ourselves and help us realise the beauty of able to express our internal thoughts. Phu gives viewers a relief from the sometimes complicated and tired moments in life.
Phu did not cling onto realism like some contemporary artists. With the influence of impressionism, especially from Manet, Phu brought to his paintings the ordinary objects around him. In "Drizzle", he expresses a serene view from his house. A beautiful scene from his window with red flowers dangling from the floor above and in the background a quiet, small alley.
A painting of the sky at dawn amidst a crowded roof of city houses is depicted in "Early Morning". In "Grass Vegetables", Phu describes a corner in his kitchen where pans and a stack of grass- vegetables are piled disorderly. Phu prefers to have some of his paintings to be of rather unconventional sizes. As a result, they produce a unique combination as seen in his latest collection. A large pro portion of his latest work was done on long and narrow canvases hence focusing one's view on a narrow space. Phu would like viewers to concentrate on the depth of the limited space in his works with emphasis on the lower parts in each painting. The upper portions of Phu's work are often characterised by strong and bold strokes giving a sense of openness.
Phu's representation of light is meticulously done often producing the effect of light dancing around the objects and images. Even in paintings with low source of light, Phu is able to give a sense of life to the objects. The wonderful effect can be clearly seen in "Quynh Flower". Phu creates and brings out the true life in all his subjects in which he intends to form an eternal image in successfully the viewers' mind.
Phu's paintings are ordinary in nature. They are images we often experience in our everyday lives but tend to neglect and fail to observe. However, by viewing Phu's paintings, one can feel movements of the subjects and the feelings that he wishes to share with us. Viewing Phu's work, we can have a chance of being in total tranquility and serenity and be able to interpret the dialogue between the paintings and ourselves.
As we enter the world of Phu, we could experience his precise and heightened state of mind. We could hear the voices of life that are often ignored but now perceived beautiful visual language.
As we sit back and discover our inner peace and feelings in privacy, we can then share our special feelings with those around us.
Duong Thu Hang – Hanoi Studio