Destination Point of an Oblique Line by Dinh Thi Tham Poong
Oblique: Diverging from a given straight line or course, neither perpendicular nor parallel to a given line or surface; slanting; sloping, indirectly aimed at or reached, as ends or results; Indirectly stated or expressed; not straightforward: An oblique allusion – innuendo.
One could say all of life is the intersection of oblique lines or occurrences. As we go throughout life, our point of view shifts, like the world on its’ axis, poised between just one aberrant movement that could send all into total chaos.
In this artist’s view, life is orderly. Tham Poong’s childhood, born of an ethnic Muong father and White Thai mother in the remote northern region of Lai Chau, began in nature in close alignment with the seasons and the phases of the moon. Life was simple and free to morph and align with the shifts in nature. This natural spirit resides in the artist to this day and has always been reflected in her art.
After graduating from the Vietnam Fine Arts University in Hanoi in 1993 Tham Poong quickly established herself as one of Vietnam’s leading female artists.
Art Vietnam Gallery presented her solo exhibition in 2006, Natural Extinct, comprised of works which reflected a structured convergence of her life in nature with her city life. In these works, utilizing pattern upon pattern in a flat palette of color on traditional Do paper, the artist creates a world at once introspective and surrealistic. Depictions of ethnic minorities juxtaposed with flat decorative pattern are flights of imagination fused with normal daily life, they are but one destination point in this versatile artist’s work.
Tham Poongs new works are a departure in form, medium and presentation but are once again a convergence of the intersection of the many paths or lines she has crossed or encircled in her life. As the artist matures, she extrapolates the twists and turns, the lines, shapes and circles with the acute realization that all these elements come from a very simple shape or starting point but as they move, they fragment and multiply, provoking many different ways of being and seeing.
Acknowledging as one of her influences Rene Magritte, Tham Poong explains,
“Magritte sees with his mind’s eye while painting, he represents not the apparent but the evolutive, not the present but the future, not what is being but what will be.
As I have been on my artistic journey, I began to perceive the limits of the visible. Everything is held in, and partially veiled by, everything... I realize that the real can be deceptive and obscure the truth.”
The artist’s new works, comprised of many mediums, oil on canvas, ceramic fragments held by embroidery, natural bamboo baskets, are the result of the evolution of the artist’s thinking about new ways of seeing. As the artist says, “I perceive two ways of seeing. One, the real, actual mode of seeing the real point, and the second being the imaginary point, what one wants to see, or the aim or concentration point. These two different points connect and disconnect but they should not be too far apart or too connected.”
The works on canvas are a departure from her traditional Do paper, the texture alone evoking a different way of seeing and feeling. In the work Like the Shadows on Water 2015, two figures sit beside Hoan Kiem Lake reading a newspaper, absorbed in their reading, seemingly floating atop the water while actually their shadow is an embroidered target, yet another point of concentration, pointedly focused.
Trying to concentrate, 2015 depicts three figures in a landscape highly focused on their activity and yet they are tentatively balanced upon a labyrinth of intersecting lines, all askew, the view is clear but the point of view is forever shifting. Lake of the Sword 02, 2015 is a serene cityscape surrounding the lake, lazy clouds reflected in the water that morph and change as they drift by.
Connecting and disconnecting these shapes reflect a reality at times near, at times very far.
Departing from her visual landscape mode, Tham Poong has created a series of small golden ceramic pieces, like a small fingerprint, held in place on a canvas background much in the same way the weavers from her native village place an object in the loom to weave around thereby creating pattern. The threads are sewn straight or not straight, or turn in many ways as if they are trying to lead the viewer to a specific point.
I think like you do, 2015 is a diptych of the two forms of expression, the angular dissecting lines of embroidery at times mirroring the lines of intersection in the oil on canvas, creating a tension that at times intertwines and at times repels.
Completing the objects is a very large bamboo tray in which triangular cushions are placed in a pattern, referencing a mandala of the universe or the sacred dance of Venus and Mars, where the conjunction of the shapes indicates or forms the nature of the relationship.
She invites the viewers to enter the mandala basket and sit with its intersecting lines to explore the interconnectedness of those around them. Points of intersection, crossing, dividing and morphing into a new existence.
Dinh Thi Tham Poong has exhibited widely internationally and her works are in the permanent collections of the Singapore Art Museum, Fukuoka Asean Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan, the Rupertinum Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, the MacLean Collection Mundelein, Illinois, USA, and the Post Vidai Collection, Vietnam/Switzerland among others.
Please come to celebrate the new work of this very talented artist and explore your own shifting points of view.