A Dialogue between Modern and Tradition

Before getting into silk, I practiced using acrylic and watercolors. Each material has its own characteristics with its own requirements and strengths. The clarity of the silk appealed to me, but the transparency and softness were a challenge. This inspired me to layer silk on top of one another or lay silk on top of an existing fabric. If you stop at the layering, the way to do it is no different from the “brocade” layering in the royal costume. I want to create a work that is more intimate, breathing contemporary life. Underneath the silk painting of characters, I put a layer of fabric with cut-out motifs (from floral fabrics collected in Hanoi’s markets). Using stitching, embroidery, and pattern organization techniques creates a symbolic, independent natural scene but interacts and changes with the silk painted above. Different viewing position or angle creates a different mixing effect - similar to how I perceive a diverse, objective reflection between nature and people (from observing people bathing in the Red River many years ago).

The stillness, the fluency of space and time, and the inspiration from Buddhist life help me practice the observation of my inner self. There I saw the image of free life, like clouds and flowers, just as it was. A spiritual world not only artists but everyone aim for.

I also noticed the time traces of the inscriptions carved on the rock in the caves, pagodas, and inscriptions that existed for hundreds of years through field trips. The cracks and defects mixed with real trees and plants are colorful. Collecting Han-Nom characters, separating them, and combining them into meditative poems embroidered on fabric evokes the writing of poetry in Asian paintings but in a random arrangement with amateur embroidery techniques to create dialogue.

Reflecting on concise, profound metaphors from Eastern culture that connect with contemporary life really opens up a cross-cutting approach to my artistic practice.

Description from The Grapevine Selection Exhibition Catalog, 2023, p.29.