Toronto City to feature Hanoi Dreams exhibition

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Five well-established Hanoian artists will introduce their "Hanoi Dreams," a debut group exhibition, to Canadian art-lovers from Nov 22 to Dec 5.

The exhibition marks the Canadian debut for all five emerging and established artists: Trinh Quoc Chien, Vu Huong Quynh, Nguyen Minh Thanh, Ngo Van Sac, Nguyen Quang Minh. The exhibit will take place at Art Square Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

The art, which represents five ways of dreaming, features a dream-like quality "” including Chien's Buddhist-inspired mixed media lacquer paintings, Sac's intricate wood engravings and Thanh's haunting, poetic water colors.

Since his graduation from the Hanoi Fine Arts institute in 1993, Chien has been developing a unique style to express his  perspective of oriental abstractionism, according to a press release from the organizer, the East Gallery in Canada.

"Chien takes the traditional Vietnamese art form of lacquer painting in a radically new direction by utilizing a variety of elemental substances such as silver and gold leaf, stone and pebbles," a press release from the organizers said.

"These materials are formed into cultural symbols, such as the bell and the lotus flower, or into traditional or invented iconography, to form highly structured, balanced representations of the inner life of the Asian psyche."

Female artist Quynh comes from an artistic family, where her parents and her older sister, Vu Thu Hien, are all accomplished painters.

"Perhaps as a result of these strong familial influences, over the course of her short career, Quynh has embraced a number of different creative styles and media to express her unique vision," the release said.

Her latest series of figurative work represents a break from her traditional representative treatments and instead presents a more modern,stylistic perspective.

Quynh's subjects are universalized and seemingly transparent, with key Vietnamese cultural symbols such as the fish, the dragonfly and trees shining through. Her brushwork ranges from controlled and sparse to expressive and flamboyant,as she communicates the inner emotional landscape of her subjects.

Thanh emerged in the Hanoi art scene in the mid-1990s, with early success in painting, installation and performance art. His three installations, "One Road", "Rice Field" and "I don't trust anyone" were exhibited in England and at the South Korean Gwangju Biennale in 1999. His paintings have been featured at a variety of international exhibitions, including at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and at the Asian Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia.

The Hanoi Dreams exhibition includes three recent examples of Thanh's signature work the portrait. Using Chinese ink and watercolor on traditional Vietnamese Dzo paper, Thanh uses his own image in an exploration of his evolving self-concept. These poetic and philosophical images simultaneously convey the simplicity and complexity of human identity.

"I believe that inside of each person there is real and perfect beauty we cannot see it but we feel it," Thanh said. "I would like to remind people that beneath our mind there is peace, and from there, everything will begin."

According to artist Sac, "My art work is about desires, the tension between real life and fantasy, and the complicated relationships between humans. I want to show my emotions and share my own stories. The inspiration for my work comes from what is happening around me, and I am influenced by my own story, too. Each component in my artwork has a story. Each circumstance creates complex emotions -- whether people are alone or sitting together, talking and this is something I want to show and share."

Minh, born in 1970, prefers Vietnamese folklore, because "I love Vietnamese folklore. I've grown up with it. Folklore permeates the popular prints created in my mother's home place, the famous Dong Ho village. It is in the lullabies by which my mother soothed me into sleep."

Minh was born into a family of factory workers who had no connection to the arts. The subject matter of most of his paintings is rural life, expressed through a muted color palate and a delicate combination of hues to create bucolic scenes that are sparse and lyrical, as well as imbued with a serene innocence.

Minh employs simplified images of buffaloes, dragonflies and graceful Vietnamese "everywoman" figures that are drawn from Vietnamese cultural archetypes.

His subject matter and style combine seamlessly to form a metaphor for his world view: "I am striving to get to the spiritual essence of things -- something beyond the visible which keeps escaping me. I try to say as much as I can with as little as possible."

A video clip that introduces the exhibition and artworks is available at:

For more information, contact,

Web site:

Art Square Gallery is located on 334 Dundas Street West (across the street from the AGO), Toronto.

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