This series of four paintings on silk were inspired by Vietnamese painter Nguyen Phan Chanh (1884-1992) who frequently depicted everyday women often in rural settings in a realist style as opposed to the imagined and highly exaggerated ways of his peers. He also used powerful area of black in many of his works. In this exhibition, my series of four is displayed alongside one of Chanh's paintings.
This series of four paintings on silk are closely related to the subject of women that is central to many of the works from the other modern artists in this exhibition. Some as muses and in the particular case of Nguyen Phan Chanh's realist works (with whom I most closely identify with), women from everyday life as opposed to the imagined and highly exaggerated depictions of his peers. Many of Chanh's works are a delicate balance of realism with large abstract areas of black.
I took this as a starting point for the four paintings. Photographs were taken in my studio to play with the composition with large areas of black. The framing and composition is more contemporary, photographic. Unlike Chanh, the series is non-narrative, but like Chanh, there is an interplay between areas of abstraction and realism. I also wanted to put my own personal style on this traditional medium, rather than copy the style from the Ecole de Beaux Arts artists (which copying is still prevalent in Vietnam). Silk painting has a long history in Vietnam and I wanted this to serve as a starting point but diverge to find my own way of approaching painting on silk.
I made my own silk sizing from rabbit skin glue and alum, and I borrowed the Chinese gongbi technique of underpainting the reverse side of the silk with black and white before applying layers of color washes and lines on the front.
Included in the exhibition, Departures.
De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong Departures. May 26 - July 8, 2017 Watercolor on silk. 66 x 46 cm each.