Landscape has always been a fascinating and absorbed subject that many artists want to exploit and bring to their art. The development of other forms of landscape – seascapes, cityscapes or townscapes- has produced innumerable styles and techniques. For those who love the radiance and freshness of Vietnam and its landscapes, the works of Phan Thu Trang is definitely a welcome choice. Trang’s vibrant, lively works are unmistakably Vietnamese in character.
Born in Hanoi, like many other artists, Trang’s mind was engraved with images of Hanoi and the Northern villages. That’s why the vivid landscapes of the villagers and their life have always been seen in her paintings. In her paintings, Trang does not try to describe what she has seen but what she has felt from every moment of her life and her memories of the places where she lived or passed by. They could be a women going to the market from early dawn, farmers hastening to cycle on the village roads, peaceful afternoons or hot summer days… Those moments also bring her to the different sensation of color and light as well as composition. Trang’s works are also the stories of human’s destiny. The people in her paintings may have different pieces of life that eternally identify themselves with the village gates, the trees, the rice fields…Trang often uses strokes of knife to describe her feeling.
There are more and more refined strokes in her paintings as if they are telling never-ending stories of people living in Vietnam. In those stories, the sky and water are depicted with the big knives. Looking at the big blocks of color, the viewers can have the feeling of the peace and immensity. The artist details the leaf canopy with the small strokes and the smallest ones for the figures.
Graduating from the Theater and Cinema Academy, Trang’s strongest point is to capture the light and bring it to her paintings. She always tries to use color and light to create different sensation for each piece of her art. Works in gradation of blue appear as pre-dawn or early evening with their soft, cool tones. Works in green and white are akin to mid-morning light; while works in shades of yellow, orange and red exude the searing heat of the mid-afternoon sun in Vietnam. With a limited palette, she also prefers the use of texture to define her subjects. Smooth areas of bright monotone paint together with the lush, painterly impasto are used to define tree leaves. Vibrant, bulky vaults of trees dominate spindly trunks.
Through the paintings of Phan Thu Trang, viewers will not only love the beauty and peacefulness of Vietnam, but also understand the spirit of people living here.