Posted by: duyenhoian | 26, September, 2009


‘Aspiration’  (Khat Vong by Ngo Thi Thuy Duyen) : 
Chains, Conflicts, and Discrete and Fuzzy Modes of Existence

Ambiguity is indispensable for the art of painting in this era of imitation pictures and photography. Ambiguity opens up interpretive space for viewers and that leads to an interactive artistic enjoyment rather than taking viewers as passive recepients of the painting as a stimulus. Ambiguity lets viewers forge their own understanding rather than accepting the sense attached by the painter. After a few lines on the notion of ambiguity, let us analyse the highest expression of art in a painting (Aspiration, Khat Vong) by a young painter Ngo Thi Thuy Duyen.


In the painting, the tradition and the history structure the woman, chain her and she cannot escape. In order to escape and save herself, she has to sacrifice her legs. The head wants to fly and look forward for the future. This is a clear example for conflict of interests. To save the legs, the head should be sacrificed and vice versa. No way in between. Does she have a choice? No. Her arms are not free. She is not a maker of history but pushed and pulled by historical forces. At a second sight, it seems that the chain around the head resembles that around the legs. The chains are made of the same white material: Actually, both past and future, tradition and leap forward share the same problems: modernization, improvement, growth, development etc.

Why is she naked? Maybe it symbolizes her poverty. If she were to be rich, the head and the legs would have followed the same rules and same directions for movement. 
Nakedness has a second sense here: It implies that along with its social and political connotations, the conflict depicted here has psychological repercussions as well.

She is isolated. We cannot see any(-)body (both anybody and any body) facing the conflict other than her. That means the conflict she experiences is either modern or post-modern and not pre-modern where collective identities and togetherness are the norm. Her breasts signify fecundity but she has nobody to offer her fertility.

Maybe she is not isolated, maybe the colours on the background are other human beings experiencing the very same problem, and she sees them as dispersed, dismantled and fuzzy beings rather than discrete human beings. (This represents the formation of stars through several stages of dwarf stars and giant stars.)

That means, the viewers have a portion of responsibility for her plight: they concentrate on her, since she has a visually discrete existence; and ignore others due to their dispersed, dismantled and fuzzy mode of existence. They are the real sufferers of the painting as well as the real heroes. Nobody can notice their plight. Their silence and fuzzy presence let viewers see the red woman whose legs and head have different vectors and physical forces. Another option is that viewers can notice the silent sorrow of the fuzzy beings only by approaching them, going nearer and nearer and by feeling empathy for them; but they as viewers lack empathy since they are out of the painting and out of the world constructed by the painting. The conflicts the fuzzy beings experience are graver so much so that they have turned into shades of colour rather than identifiable animate beings.

Chains, conflicts, discrete and fuzzy modes of existence… ‘Aspiration’ (Khat Vong by Ngo Thi Thuy Duyen) opens up a vast array of conceptual planes for the viewers and it worths visiting the Exhibition (Khoi Hanh, Departure) at Tu Do Gallery (15-26/07/2007, 53 Ho Tung Mau St., Dist.1, HCMC, Vietnam) even for that single painting only.


Written by Dr. Ulas Basar Gezgin, 
15 July 2007, HCMC, Vietnam

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