ANH DUONG – FLOWERS
MARCH 16 – MAY 13, 2005
This is about a portrait of flowers, a bouquet of faces, an ensemble of bodies. Where each stem has a move, each petal a stare, each pistil a caress. A choreography of beauty, where each flower finds her place, her direction on the canvas, competing with one another, each in her own expression.
This is the story of right before the end, the crystallization of beauty before she fades, this magic moment that we want eternal, yet I lost it , you have already forgotten me. (...)
This story dies and another one comes to life. I started this series of flowers mourning a love, I continued that series looking for this perfect moment before everything stops, with other lips that made me forget you, other caresses that dressed my hair and today it is him that makes me longing. The flower is here to say I love you, she is also here the day we die. In the search for perfection, from canvas to canvas, decrepitude also took place, a petal faded, a stem curved, because beauty is at her best when she flirts with death. Anh Duong, January 2005
Since she started out in 1988, Anh Duong has painted only portraits and self-portraits, reflections of given moments or particular moods that follow on from each other like the pages of a personal diary. There is nothing narcissistic about this; she considers the portrait to be a dialectical game with the mirror image, a way of experimenting with painting from day to day, and of expressing her awareness by disregarding a purely figurative realism.
In her ongoing analysis of herself and of the world around her, Anh Duong is now extending the scope of her pictorial investigation. After the success of her early self-portraits in bronze, which were presented on the gallery’s booth at FIAC 2004, the artist will be presenting her new paintings at the gallery from March 16 to May 13, 2005: about thirty oil paintings on canvas in different formats, all of them “flower portraits”... Vases filled with bouquets of lilies, roses, tulips and peonies, on a plain beige or black background... As in her portraits, the artist transcribes the nature and strength of her feelings into the painting, representing the flowers expressively through highly coloured impasto, contrasting with the transparency given to the canvas in fluid, linear gestures.
Anh Duong carries on so her personal diary, giving her canvases narrative titles (Memories of a sofa, The underside of an obsession...), even though the details of the story being told remain hidden from the viewer. In establishing a parallel between her moods and the flowers, she is unconsciously coming close to the approach taken by the Surrealists, who saw plants as the symbol of artistic creation: they are born, they blossom, they die... Like Frida Kahlo, to whom she is often compared, the artist paints the outside, inside and core of herself and of the world. Her bouquets are the fruit of an osmosis between her inner feelings and the outside events that affect her. Above all, Anh Duong’s paintings show how, in her eyes, the flower and the bouquet take on a highly significant representation of love, as for Matisse, who saw them as being a token of love and even seduction, with the bouquet holding the secret of love’s hope.
Anh Duong’s approach appears here, with the charm of obsolescence, to be out of step with our era in which flower painting is totally discredited, sometimes flirting with the worst embodiment of kitsch, and in which few artistic works look directly at nature and plants. In this world in which flowers embody the artificial and the illusory, Anh Duong offers us thus a style of painting that is paradoxically very genuine and full of emotion... Perhaps her most intimate self-portrait?!