From lotus to 'inner light'

The week of displaying artist Truong Van Ngoc's latest paintings titled Inner Light will last until July 10 at The Muse art space (47 Trang Tien, Hanoi). Truong Van Ngoc is an artist who has had certain successes with watercolor and lotus themes. In this exhibition, The Muse brings to the audience a new move by Truong Van Ngoc towards abstraction.

Artist Truong Van Ngoc was born in 1990 in Phu Tho, graduated from Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts in 2014, and soon found his own path in painting. Few people know, before that Truong Van Ngoc also experimented with expressionist, nude, cubist portrait painting... intensely. That type of painting emerged naturally from his artistic practice during his student life with many concerns and difficulties. But then Ngoc realized "it didn't suit me anymore" and continued her journey to find her personal identity in art.

Changes of lotus

In the East, the lotus is a symbolic image with many meanings in Buddhism. Therefore, when artists draw lotus, they will be more or less influenced by its symbolic meaning. However, just the short life cycle of lotus has countless shades from freshness to fading. What state of inspiration an artist has and how he chooses to draw lotus also reveals a part of his inner self and artistic thinking with his lotus works.

Lotus began to appear in Ngoc's compositions in 2015. But since then, his lotus can also be recognized in different states. In the years 2015 - 2018, Ngoc's lotus paintings took on an expressionistic direction, like a prediction. In 2019 - 2020, lotuses in paintings proliferated, filling the paper, full of colors and lines in a space with layers of near and far. The 2019 solo exhibition Source marks this stage of Ngoc's development. But besides that, simplified lotus works still appear. It can be said that 2021 is the peak period in Truong Van Ngoc's watercolor art when many semi-abstract works appear.

For Truong Van Ngoc's lotus works, even during the period when lotus appeared most densely on paper, the lotus pond still carried a deep tone. It feels like the lotus and the lake have just passed through a storm.

The lotus on display this time has a minimalist, expressionistic and abstract feel. These are the abstract states of lotus such as Lotus Dance, Lotus Improvisation or Oscillation. Here, the artist captures the subtle movement in each state and moment and creates a lotus shape according to that vibration. Lotus improvisation is the opposite state, capturing the spirit of leaves and flowers. But through that, the artist's inner feelings are expressed through the emotional quality of the opacity and solid colors in the work. The lines in this work are gradually released, mainly shaped by traces of color patches suggesting flowers depicted in a dynamic state but leaving the background empty, creating an undefined space to promote abstraction. statue raised high.

Besides, there are works depicting fading lotus, with a background of lake and lotus leaves, but still in a conventional space. Withered lotus gives the feeling of recognizing the reincarnation of nature but still seeing the beauty and meaning of the phenomenon. Ngoc's fading lotus works with brown tones and blue tints are lyrical and expressive.
No longer describing details but switching to expressing states and lotus signs. Few images, lots of space, saving colors and gradients. The ability to transform in writing style is exploited... Those are the meditative characteristics of lotus in this exhibition.

“The Light Within”

The main content of nearly 20 works selected during this exhibition week, besides the transformation of the lotus image, are semi-abstract works about nature.

Works such as The Concept of Matter, There's Always a Void, Free Zone, and Light help viewers think of both the meaning of the state of nature and the ideas or ecstasy that humans have. spiritually felt in the universe. These works no longer have the shape of foreign objects in life. Accordingly, there are no longer drawings to create shapes, only patches of color placed interwoven, or patches of the conducting material, water. The very blurring of line boundaries also increases the expressive meaning of these works. The contrast between light and dark colors in the works, with the dark color predominating, creates weight for concepts and increases the value of the light space.

And finally, compositions such as Inner Light and Bright Realm clearly carry the meaning of Buddhism. These works are like summarizing the vague feelings in the states of lotus and light... however, these are works that simplify the Buddha image. The emptiness of the image represents the empty mind in Buddhism. And it seems that the simplicity of color is effective, making the painting not too heavy but exuding the spirit of Buddhism.

Watercolor is a material that is very suitable for the painting trend of artist Truong Van Ngoc. There are many artists specializing in watercolor painting in Vietnam and this medium has been able to push their works to the level of sophistication of realistic depiction and expression. However, using watercolor for abstract painting is rarely seen in contemporary art up to this point. It can be said that this exhibition is a new step in Truong Van Ngoc's painting with watercolor material. Although expressionistic lotus works and semi-abstract/abstract nature have appeared as a prediction in his practice since 2016 - 2017, the convergence of works in this exhibition brings giving the audience a broader overview and deeper insight into the transformation in Truong Van Ngoc's painting thinking.