HA NOI — Meeting Nguyen Thi Chau Giang was like staring into one of her paintings and having the character step out of the canvas.
Giang’s curving shapes of a soon-to-be mother, mirrors a common theme in her work.
"Sad eyes, flat nose, dry lips and yellow skin," are distinctively Vietnamese, she says proudly, and are also a reflection of herself, a work of art sculpted by her parents 27 years ago.
Like her paintings, Giang is complex, displaying endless shades of emotions. We enjoy a silent moment together - a shared sentiment from the soul and happiness at just being a woman.
Giang is immersed in her work as an author and a painter, and has ongoing exhibitions at the Art Vietnam Gallery in Ha Noi.
My Beauty in Love, an exhibit of 16 freshly-completed oils, sees her impishly ponder life and love with the detailed observation of a writer and the quirky hand of a painter.
With explosive colours, dreams of happiness, embryonic growth and reminiscences of childhood, each of her works tells an emotional tale.
We see many levels of existence in her mimick of herself, her husband, unborn child and others around her.
"I always feel awestruck when pondering how a little creature like a human being can suffer so many differing emotions, all at the same time, without blowing up," says Giang.
"I see myself as a Vietnamese woman, fragile, discerning, who always keeps her sadness to herself. I can only share this state of mind in the hues and silence of colour - then I feel as though I have grown."
Suzanne Lecht, a well-established arts aficionado in Ha Noi, says Giang’s impressions of life are those of a woman well beyond her years.
"This is a person of deep emotion. The world within her heart is a complex one, swirling emotions, joy and sadness, doubts and fears collide with a sharp intellect," Lecht says.
Suzanne describes her favourite piece in the exhibit as a study of sensual passion, a heart of love that flowers. Rich in colour and composition, it appears as a tabloid of primal love, free and strong, but then abruptly grounded by the solemn figure of a poised and restrained Giang, seemingly bewildered and captured by her love. She remains aloof, alone and a mystery, as does her love.
Trained as an oil painter at the HCM City Fine Art College, the Ha Noi-born artist is married to violinist Tang Thanh Nam.
She says their marriage of great love inspires her to no end in both writing and painting.
"I don’t want to live without him or without art. My love and artistic passion are fed by tears as well as roses," Giang wrote in the subtitle for The Couple - a theme painting of her married love.
"There is always something inside her crying to be free," her husband discloses.
Vietnamese art critic Luong Xuan Doan summed her up well when he said, "Chau Giang’s art emerges as a small fire which keeps us warm and consoled."
My Beauty in Love is open daily at the Art Vietnam, 30 Hang Than Street.
Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency