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Shoe seller escapes reality to discover his artistic soul

Peaceful Site, oil on canvas.
Nguyen Hung Trinh's paintings reflect his true calling for surrealism, surprising for a former shoe seller.

Selling shoes at a pavement store in Vietnam is a long way from exhibiting your latest work at the Casula Powerhouse in Sydney. Yet Nguyen Hung Trinh has managed to cross that gulf.

"I don't like reality," he said. "For me, to paint is an attempt to catch up with something that is not only fragile, but also unknown. I discover and create my soul at the same time. I recognise my innermost being through the colours and the figures on the canvas."

Happy Memory, oil on canvas.
His Australian exhibitions, 'Timeless refrain' in Sydney and 'From the corner's shadow' in Melbourne were well received earlier this year.

The exposure in Australia no doubt helped Trinh secure a one‑man show in Ho Chi Minh City's prestigious Tu Do Gallery with 'Man's Time Three' in June. His first exhibition 'Man's Time One' in a gallery in Da Lat and 'Man's Time Two' in a gallery in Ho Chi Minh City failed to capture the local art world.

Born in 1954 in Quang Nam province into a family where no one was involved in the fine arts, Trinh started to draw in elementary school, not realising it would later become his life.

Trinh taught himself to paint. He tried many methods he read about in books and failed many times. Enrolled in an art programme at a small decorative art college in Dong Nai province, Trinh later dropped out after one year for financial reasons. He struggled between jobs as a wedding‑photographer and make‑up artist to support himself.

Eventually, Trinh realised in the late 1990s that was his true calling surrealism.

Critics say Trinh's style is a fine blend of western traditions with an Oriental soul.

He has broken the borders of traditional expression to reach new horizons. He has chosen an occidental medium to transmit the opposition intertwined between yin and yang, light and darkness and the‑delicate nuances of the human soul.

"My work is a journey into my soul," he says. "What I like is to search, through my works, for something that comes to me vaguely shaped in my dreams or something I find hidden in a forgotten corner of my heart."

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper.


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