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Charms of street life bewitch impish painter (Dec 27, 2002)

HA NOI — At night, flashing lights on a busy avenue can resemble a glowing galaxy of men and motorbikes. A tranquil street corner can be embraced by the shadow of an aged tree bearing the shape of an umbrella. In the impish eyes of artist Hoang The Phuong the streets of Ha Noi can take on a million wild faces.

Phuong, aged 51, captures the spirit of Ha Noi streets in a unique way that breaks free from any other traditional vision. His street scenes do not wear the graceful and classical appearance of those by guru Bui Xuan Phai. Neither do they depict girls walking customarily in ao dai or vendors carrying bamboo-baskets and wearing conical hats like many contemporary representations.

His exhibition, entitled Street Sights, is currently showcasing more than 30 artworks about street life seen through an extremely comical perspective.

"Each Ha Noi street bears a distinctive feature in my eyes," says Phuong. "A street is like a lizard changing its skin. I always spot it in motion at varying moments of time."

In Coming Home That Late, Phuong draws a lonely cyclist returning home welcomed by drowsy houses, a bending sleepy lamp post and a yawning sky.

Three Generation Street is a street where houses built in ancient, middle-aged and modern styles co-habit. According to the artist they represent generations of grand-parents, parents and children.

"I love the way people question me in surprise when they recognise a certain street in my painting. ‘Is this Le Van Huu?’ some asked about the Three Generation Street, although the streets never appear in their most-seen nature in my work."

In his creations, Phuong refrains from using traditional black border-lines to create shapes. Others colours make it work, according to the artist.

"Phuong has a unique look on Ha Noi and an extraordinary ear to listen to the city’s rhythm," said painter and art critic Luong Xuan Doan.

Street Sights will run at the Exhibition House, 16 Ngo Quyen Street, until January 9. — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vienam News Agency


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