Monday, 2 June 2014

A Touch of Radiance

Phan Thu Trang’s minimalistic paintings offer viewers unexpected landscapes of unique freshness and radiance.

Think of the verdant, lush forests of Vietnam. Now think of beautiful naïve paintings depicting landscapes. Consider the magic effect that such paintings always seem to exert on us by taking us back to the innocence and freshness of our childhood years. Combine all these ingredients and picture yourselves taking a walk through such imaginary scenery. You have entered Phan Thu Trang’s realm.

In fact, Vietnamese Hanoi-based painter Phan Thu Trang has found her place in the world of Art by means of the very personal and distinctive technique and approach adopted to depict the freshness of her homeland landscapes. She simplifies elements to their very basics and works them with a limited palette, providing her works with contrasting textures which endow them with their uniqueness and moving beauty.

The lush, rich impasto foliage achieved through the creative use of a knife seems to completely dominate the frail, slender trunks of trees which stand out against a smooth monotone background. Phan Thu Trang relies on then use of limited colours which, however, play an important role, since they reflect the various shades offered by the different seasons of the year or the ever-changing nuances of daylight exuding all the glory of her homeland’s exotic scenery.

All her minimalistic paintings display trees as a centrepiece, although Trang depicts daily life activities such as women going to the market, farmers cycling on the village roads, people busy with their common, humble tasks. In fact, Phan Thu Trang tells us the story of human destiny and her strokes of knife often reflect the artist’s feelings.

Curiously enough, and under attentive scrutiny, there seems to be a sort of a hierarchy in the different elements of her paintings represented through the gradation of the strokes used: sky and water are depicted through thick strokes of big knives, the canopy of leaves emerge from small strokes and human figures materialize from the smallest touches.

All in all, Phan Thu Trang skilfully captures the myriad and awesome shades of Vietnam’s colours and light, thereby conveying to viewers the peace and immensity of her homeland in her constant experimentation with compositions. She, therefore, takes us on a journey through stylized and extremely delicate depictions of unexpected landscapes and unforgettable radiance.

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