Gallery: Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Artist(s): Ryuji Tanaka
Opening / Event Date: 19 Oct, 2019
Closing / End Date: 1 Feb, 2020
AFFINITY ART is delighted to present “Spaces Between Men”, the first solo gallery exhibition in Hong Kong by Vietnamese artist Hoang Duong Cam.
Hoang Duong Cam is considered one of the boldest conceptual artist in Vietnam. As part of the first batch of artists who graduated from the Hanoi Fine Arts University in 1996 after the Doi-Moi (open reform policy) he addresses sociopolitical, historical and philosophical themes in his diverse practice including painting, photography, film, installation and sculptures.
“Spaces Between Men” is Hoang’s latest series in which he explores the interaction between people at different moments in history. New perspectives are created from weaving together random historical instances with an underlying context of the 20th century wartime and people migration in modern times in Vietnam.
Referencing old photographs, often taken from Vietnam’s war-stricken history, Hoang isolates the physical space between human figures into a two-dimensional shape, capturing the transient moment of their interaction. Removed from its context and stripped of emotional content, the shape adopts a new role. Hoang experiments rigorously with the angle, position, orientation, size, tone and textures of the shapes before juxtaposing them to achieve an overall composition that he is satisfied with. The shapes are not pure abstractions but are rather derived from real human interactions captured on photographs, transforming “spaces” both physical and in time that the artist wants to highlight and link.
In his creative process, Hoang also reflects on the subjective interpretation that historical events are subjected to, by applying a different treatment for a shape: the same form, meaning the same event, may be interpreted differently depending on perspectives and viewpoints.
As the shapes populate the canvas, a parallel narrative – unconnected to the original photographs – develops naturally from the emerging visual clues. The finished work resembles a multi-layered jigsaw puzzle that elicits in viewers a curiosity to delve deeper into the stories embodied by the visually striking shapes. In some works, the artist remarks on philosophic theories, such as #2 Lake Inside a Cave where Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is likened to the practice of idealization in the art world. In #1 Porous Spring, the work is reminiscent of a landscape, a white waterfall dominates the centre with a fresh stream trickling to its left – the sky, clouds and water are merged seamlessly as inspired by works from Japanese artist Hokusai. Some works make ambiguous allusion to the war, such as the earth-tone rich #5 A stretch of Burnt Grass while it is also a common present-day practice to burn fields between harvests or to observe natural fires break out in the drier season. In #9 The Long and Winding Road, the artist comments on the newly privatised roads, many users find the toll fees too high and prefer to take the longer winding – and toll-free – way, as depicted by the red outline lacing round the canvas and which, interestingly, ends close to where it starts.
In “Spaces Between Men”, the artist attempts to reconciliate those impacted by history with facts pared down to a visual representation of the spatial interaction and thereby offering a catalyst to the “organic healing” process, as he calls it, through his powerful and transformative imagery.
Hoang was born in 1974 in Hanoi and graduated from the Hanoi University of Fine Arts in 1996. He currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City. With an extensive body of work spanning two decades, his solo/two-person exhibitions have been held both locally and internationally – including France, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. Hoang’s work has been included in group exhibitions in over a dozen countries across Asia, America and Europe. His works are collected by the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan.