Vietnam artist exhibits barebones renderings of iconic buildings

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A poster for painter Ha Manh Than's "Heaven is a place" exhibit currently on display at Ho Chi Minh City's Galerie Quynh

Hanoi artist Ha Manh Thang is currently holding his first solo exhibition at Ho Chi Minh City's Galerie Quynh through May 25.

The exhibition, "Heaven is a place," opened on April 24, featuring a new body of work from Thang, which depicts monuments and edifices symbolic of Vietnam's urban centers and reflect the artist's continued concern for the need to reconcile the country's cultural traditions with the dramatic changes that have taken place since the late 1980s.

The exhibit questions the connections between the buildings Vietnam constructs and the ideals they embody, according to a press release from the organizer.

Thang's work examines iconic monuments such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Hue Citadel, Ben Thanh Market and the Bitexco Financial Tower, stripping away their details to reduce them to their basic forms.

"Vulnerable and exposed, their physical, imposing stature may seem diminished but their symbolic power still exists. That their identities cannot be stripped entirely reveals how deeply the images and ideals are ingrained in our collective consciousness," the artist explained.

"Is it possible to even reexamine the meanings and power of these structures? What do the transparent layers in these landscapes suggest? When these landscapes physically disappear, will they continue to be relevant or will their significance be lost?"

Born in 1980 in Thai Nguyen Province, Thang is considered one of Vietnam's most important young painters. He was also the only artist from Vietnam profiled in the 2009 Phaidon Press publication "Painting Today," in which he was featured alongside acclaimed international artists like Gerhard Richter, Neo Rauch and Peter Doig.

Upon graduating from the Hanoi Fine Arts University in 2004, Thang has held a number of notable exhibitions, including those in Hungary, Germany and Singapore.

The artist currently lives and works in Hanoi.

Galerie Quynh is located at 65 De Tham Street in HCMC's District 1, and is open Tuesday Saturday from 10 AM 6 p.m.

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