Anh Duong was born to Franco-Vietnamese parents and has lived in New York for many years. She is part of the generation of young American painters whose works draw on a highly cosmopolitan social life whilst at the same time she keeps a quite separate place thanks to her uncompromising artistic expression.
In both her painting and her sculpture, Anh Duong works essentially on the portrait, overlooking the subject and concentrating essentially on the actual technique. The self-portrait remains her favourite area of experimentation, as it allows her to give free rein to her own very specific style, expressing herself as though she were writing in her diary.
The deliberately narrative titles which the artist gives her portraits, (such as Perfume of Schizophrenia, I Hate Peanut Butter - Vacuity Orgie, All my Life I Have Dreamt) etc., add to their mystery and take us into a perception of the world based on emotions.
As a former haute couture model herself, Anh Duong does not feature the formal beauty of her models; she is interested first and foremost in reflecting their personalities and feelings. The paint is either applied using very precise, contrasting touches of colour, underlining the main features of the face or the details of the skin or, on the contrary, it is highly diluted in a fluid, linear series of gestures, which then brings out all the intimacy of the body in the transparency of the clothes, thus giving the works a character which is both realistic and bold, erotic and mysterious.
Although this approach to painting through the self-portrait, rather like a dialectic game with the mirror image, is somewhat reminiscent of Frida Kahlo’s approach, both Anh Duong’s expressionistic style and the difficulty of some of the poses remind us of Egon Schiele, of his harsh (self-)portraits which transcribe the torments of life, far removed from any purely figurative idealisation.