Bangkok, 15 July 2020—Craig Thomas Gallery is pleased to announce Tribe of Loneliness, a solo exhibition of mixed media paintings by Saigon-based artist Luong Luu Bien. The collection will be open to viewing by the public at CTG’s Tran Nhat Duat gallery from 17 July – 6 August 2020.
A signature of Luong Luu Bien’s work has always been a raw emotional honesty that gives the viewer the sense that what is being expressed comes from a real place within the artist’s psyche. Bien is not creating images for just visual effect, but instead channelling his deepest feelings directly onto his canvases. The works of Bien’s 2009 collection Fossils pictured spare figures in cramped and oppressive scenarios that conjured up alienation and loneliness, feelings which Bien confirms he often experienced as a child and young man. This fearlessness in expressing his inner turmoil and pain has always made Bien’s work uniquely compelling and allowed the viewer to continuously lose himself in the one act plays that his paintings resemble.
The works of Tribe of Loneliness continue to explore the artist’s obsessions with isolation and social disaffection, but paintings like Private Corner and The Way of Pilgrims also radiate feelings of love, warmth and humour which seem to reflect Bien’s personal growth over the ensuing decade. There is a natural tension between hope and despair in the paintings of this collection which speaks deeply of the human condition. Bien says, “From silent private spaces, from individuals screaming in their loneliness, I come towards compositions that are more crowded. They are congregations, communities of people, societies. This, however, is the perspective of someone who is escaping this individuality and taking on the perspective of one living among a greater collective. Every person is within themselves an entire world and this fact becomes more pronounced when we are brought together.”
What also remains unchanged is Bien’s unique creative method which employs techniques learned studying lacquer painting to create mixed media works that have the effect of being sculptures painted into canvas. A master of anatomical painting, Bien almost invariably depicts the characters in his paintings naked in a world devoid of any context but color and mood. Bien says, “The rhythm of my new work is reflected in the figures of the dancers. I continue to work in mixed media and combine several techniques in my paintings. The arrangement of elements in composition and the lines in my paintings are quite similar to lacquer paintings and engraved printing. Further, the way I apply multiple thin layers of color in my works is similar to the techniques in lacquer and silk painting.”
One remarkable departure in this latest collection from Bien’s earlier work is his choice to work with much larger canvasses than in previous collections. This includes the compositions of large diptychs like the painting Tribe of Loneliness the style of which the artist equates to paintings from the Renaissance which were filled with numerous people on grand stages. Bien says, “My larger compositions depict my scepticisms on the meaning of life, the meaning of freedom and the act of living in a group. They focus on the actions, transactions, and disputes undertaken to achieve our daily needs; or they show our errors and confusion as we seek to find our way to a religious faith which can lead us to an eternal, constant and true place.”
With his latest collection Tribe of Loneliness, Luong Luu Bien once again presents a series of visceral vignettes that express the vulnerable and isolated side of the human condition, and, what one feels is also a window into the mind and soul of the artist. Taken together they evince the continuing evolution of this most interesting of Vietnamese visual artists and show him to be at the height of his considerable powers.
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Exhibition dates: 17 July – 6 August 2020
Location: Craig Thomas Gallery
27(i) Tran Nhat Duat
Tan Dinh Ward, Dist. 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Contacts: Craig Thomas – 0903888431
Tom Van Blarcom | Warin Pattarapatumthong
Tel: 0 2260 5820 /Fax: 0 2260 5847-8