Culture Culture

20/08/2019 - 07:50

Nguyen Trong Khoi and the hometown nostalgia

From Boston, the USA, Nguyen Trong Khoi packed his hometown nostalgia in his artworks to bring to home for the exhibition themed “Home Memories” at Diem Phung Thi Art Gallery in Hue, and then in Hoi An.

Nguyen Trong Khoi (painter)

“Home Memories” includes 29 artworks of oil on canvas and acrylic, depicting the home nostalgia of an immigrant who always has heart for home. These are works that Nguyen Trong Khoi has painted for the past two years, most of which are about his emotions and concerns of daily life, music, scenery and human beings. All are related to his longing for home.

To him, the hometown through the images of the winding river, the boat and the hut, or through his childhood memories is too dim to serve as a background for creativity because he has been away from home for very long. He has to seek for a reconciliation with the surrounding. It was also his hidden concerns and feelings about life and loneliness. With his heart for home, he sometimes imagines he is strolling on the rice field and then paints with the imagination.

Although there is no hut or boat in Nguyen Trong Khoi’s paintings, there is a dim image of his hometown in most of them. I am very impressed by the painting “The Quiet Autumn,” which, according to him, is about autumn in Vietnam with green trees and fresh air. There is no river notwithstanding, there is always the freshness of a far-off past memories of swimming in the hometown river.

In Nguyen Trong Khoi’s paintings, the hometown is present in every brush stroke. “Inter-melodies” is a work about a music type of the rice field and the village paths, which can only be found in the rice field spaces of the agricultural countries like Vietnam.

The work “The Quiet Autumn”

As a way of contemplation, he has several works about human life. For example, a single mother tried to protect her two innocent children from the traps in life; and she sometimes covers her face with a mask for survival. The work “No Face” touches the challenge people who are faced with in life.

Graduating from Gia Dinh College of Fine Art, Nguyen Trong Khoi has worked on both realistic and abstract paintings. He has concentrated more on abstract paintings in recent years as it allows more interpretation and liberty in creativity.

While painting abstract works, he provokes sentiments about the natural atmosphere, the inner feelings or the good mood of music through the elite organization of color blocks. The color mixing and spreading, the curving brush strokes, the blocks are selectively arranged from his own experience and preference; nothing is arbitrary in Nguyen Trong Khoi’s paintings.

For realistic paintings, there exists the image of humans in them. It is reflected through the concerns about life, a vague borderline between reality and illusion, an incredulous, delusive space, and the presence of isolation, loneliness and sorrow.

His painting is always a twister of abstractness and reality. Technically, he removes those sharp, pure painting strokes and replaces them with rough painting strokes in familiar deep colors.

In the exhibition in Hue, Nguyen Trong Khoi has brought a surprise in two works typical of Hue: “The Purplish Hue” and “The Stone Horse.”. Whereas “The Purplish Hue” is a painting of the poetic quiet Hue with the familiar image of ladies in ao dai by the river, “the Stone Horse” is a depiction of the far-off history of the ancient imperial and the steeds undergoing hardship to protect the country through different reigns.

The work “Purplish Hue”

These are the two works he created about Hue on his first visit to Hue last year. A day in Hue was too short for him to inspire all about Hue, but Hue left in him a strong impression. His emotions and imagination about Hue were awaken at his sight of Hue, especially the purple color of Hue provoked a vague, gentle melancholy.

“Hue gives me a feeling of gentleness: the graceful people and the poetic scenery. Here I find myself deep in the freshness and the soul of Hue, and my emotions arise out of my heart. After this exhibition, I have an intention of painting a series of works about Hue,” said the painter with his heart.

Painting to express the inner feelings of an immigrant longing for the hometown, Nguyen Trong Khoi often finds more motivations and emotions every time he returns to Vietnam. He accumulates all images and emotions about his hometown and paints while he is overseas, and brings them all back for exhibition to seek for empathy and harmony.

Story and photos: TRANG HIEN