Vietnam Artist Duong Ngoc Son
THE PLANT EATER
With a passion for oil painting, artist Duong Ngoc Son has continuously sought and expressed his emotions onto the toile.
At first he focused his feelings on still life. With a subtle, skillful painting style and an exclusive way of selecting and using colors, he searched for and expressed his own stories and states when facing simple things like a conical palm hat, a pomelo, a mangosteen, a bamboo bed, a smooth folded satin strip, a pure lotus flower, or an old pottery vase. However, his still-life paintings almost have full of inanimate objects as though they would appear from the paintings. The background is often dark brown but it seems to echo through the thin layers of colors. Perhaps these are hidden signs for later changes in Duong Ngoc Son’s paintings.
In fact, from realism and the passion for the appearance and tranquility of objects, he suddenly shifted to the love of expressing his impressions upon the colorful nature. It is like a man who wants to reveal his mind after having devoted to his own introspection.
As regards impressionism, it is noteworthy that all Duong Ngoc Son’s paintings have plants. In other words, plants are the main character in his paintings. Plants are brilliant and cover most of the paintings, with such hot colors as bright red, orange, yellow and pink. He manages to express the eagerness and boisterousness of flowers and leaves in the sun and the wind with strong and rhythmic painting style. Not to depict flowers and leaves in detail as he did formerly, now he expresses his views about the life of flowers and leaves through bright colors and thick brushwork on the toile. Look at his paintings and you will have a feeling of standing in front of dishes of flowers and leaves. It is very impressive at the first sight, but it will make you tired later because you have to breathe the same way as the brilliant flowers and leaves in his paintings do. Then you realize that the artist is falling in love with flowers and leaves! His menu is not like others’ menus, and vice versa. Not many people can “eat” and “like to eat” flowers and leaves like he does. And this is probably the reason why Duong Ngoc Son has created his own painting style.
Although following impressionism, Duong Ngoc Son has made his paintings different from other impressionistic paintings with women in ba ba (Vietnamese traditional costume) or in white ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress), which are typical things of Vietnam, his homeland.
There is another interesting thing in his paintings: the transition of the position of objects and the still and animated states of things and people in Duong Ngoc Son’s paintings. Looming under the shade of trees full of flowers and leaves are women, the still objects of the paintings though they are in action: rowing a boat, carrying things or riding a bicycle. In fact, all human activities seem to become still in front of natural flowers and leaves. A falling leaf seems to be heavy as though it would fall out of the toile.
While many in the artistic circle try to make their own styles, Duong Ngoc Son’s style was probably formed from his sincere, strong and exclusive love and view of the nature. He expresses his love and view innocently, and improves his oil painting skill continuously so as to be able to reveal his feelings and thoughts in his paintings. People often say that one should paint this way or that way to reach a subtle, smart and sizable rank. Duong Ngoc Son does not care about this. And this has formed his own rank, which creates what he really feels. As a result, viewers of his paintings are those who actually love his paintings and can share his feelings instead of buying a trademark work. The concept of ranking sometimes hinders the takeoff of the soul of a real artist.
Duong Ngoc Son’s paintings clearly reflect their owner, who is simple and honest but determined, open and innocent but profound. For him, flowers, leaves and grass are not graceful and charming but hot, bustling and noisy. Similarly, Duong Ngoc Son has dedicated himself to painting consciously in his unconsciousness.
A SOUL OF NATURE
Nature is always an inspiring theme for either Oriental or Western artists at either ancient or modern age which is considered as a binding concern of the artists. Artist DNS is the case. He was born and has grown up in Vietnam where the nature is plentiful with rivers and mountains as well as natural produce nurturing his soul.
He graduated from Fine Arts University of Ho Chi Minh City in 1997 at the age of 24. Upon graduation, he started to paint and keep learning from the real life and nature. Thanks to his unlimited passion to art, he has spent all of his time painting with tireless efforts. So far, the total number of his paintings has reached 500 units admirably. His paintings are known by audience all over the world and presented in local and overseas galleries or exhibitions under the form of collection.
His main theme is beloved nature. Nature is found in streets with the primary palette of pinky purple. His paintings are recognized easily through many canopies of bright red-flowers in summer sunlight or a clump of purple flamboyant in early fall wind. There are mossy gates and tiled roofs in his paintings and also a facade of an old town which is visited by beautiful ladies in pure and white tunic, “ao dai” or many flower shops displaying an eventful life-style in cities.
The most impressive paintings are about nature in countryside. These paintings reveal his soul in blue and green which direct us to a vast green rice-field. There are many cottages and villages behind a rampart of bamboo and pathways or waterways to compose a lively and poetic scenary of the country life.
The theme is highly expressed through lotus ponds during blooming season. It is not limited to a door-frame but extended to an open space of sky where lotus is blooming. Thanks to his skillful layout in meandering brushstrokes, the surface of water becomes visionary. Both the blue of water and the white of clouds reflected on water make the green of lotus leaves lively but dreamily. This is the most successful painting by Son when he tries to represent the beauty of his country’s nature.
By his fine view, Son has utilized dimension properly. His paintings about nature is different from others because he can represent streets crowded without cramped and pastoral scenery immense without dilute. Working people is the subject of his emphasizing brushwork, profoundly and softly. The brushwork is strong, active and flexible as well as the colorful palette guiding audience to a nature’s love in a modern life. Is this the firm stuff of artist Duong Ngoc Son?
1996 Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts University
1997 Metropolitain Building
1998 Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts University
1999 Exhibition House of Culture in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Association
2000 Alliance Francaise de Singapour
2001 Alliance Francaise of Manila
Francaise de Singapour
Galerie Anh Tuyet in Toulouse (France)
2002 Salon D’ Automne International de Luneville(France)
Galerie Anh Tuyet in Toulouse (France)