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Surreal Vietnam imaginings (October 07, 2005)

Hovering 200 meters above ground in the Caretta Shiodome skyscraper in Tokyo, Milanese restaurant BiCE has been making a name for itself not just through its veal scaloppini with lemon sauce, but also as a venue for contemporary art, like the recent "Antelope Canyon Painting with Light" exhibition by Australian-based photographer Mirek Rzadkowski.

Next in line from Oct. 9 is "The Joy of the Imagination: Exhibition of Paintings." It brings together 28 paintings from 1995-2003 by the self-taught expatriate painter, physicist and double Ph.D.-holding Nguyen Dinh Dang.

Only a few years after his birth in 1958 in Hanoi, Vietnam, Dang was already putting pen to paper. Prodigious drawing efforts as a child resulted in his first oil work depicting a European woman, painted on cloth cut from a sack for storing rice.

As a graduate student in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), he discovered the works of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Following his return to Vietnam in 1985, he combined his study of old master techniques with a newfound interest in the Surrealism he currently pursues. It's a style suited to Dang's emphasis on realistic drawing (that follows after the manner of Salvador Dali) and the nude figure, a subject effectively banned in Vietnamese art from 1945 to the early '80s. In Dang's paintings, threads of narrative connect historical and mythical themes of Vietnam to memories of family and the artist's fellow countrymen.

The exhibition runs Oct. 9-Dec. 9. at BiCE Milanese restaurant, 47F Caretta Shiodome 1-8-1 Higashi Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo. BiCE is one minute from Shiodome Station on the Oedo Line, Exit 4 or 5. Restaurant hours are Mon-Fri: 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m and 5:30 p.m.-11.30 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 11:30 a.m.- 3.30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-11.30p.m. Tel. (03) 5537-1926. Admission is free. (Matt Larking)

Reprinted from The Japan Times


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