Culture Culture

26/10/2017 - 10:08

Truc Chi and Listen to the River

Truc (bamboo) represents the magnanimity, Chi (paper) is a thread linking the debris and the individuals. Truc Chi is probably considered as the connection between tradition and modernity. The bamboo which is familiar as an evergreen fence around the village from a long time ago suddenly becomes a boat carrying art and transporting culture. Not any longer is that boat bobbing on the lakes, streams or rivers, but crossing the ocean to the far-away lands.

A part of the work “Listen to the River”

The one who has helped the Vietnamese bamboo come in contact with the world is artist Phan Hai Bang, who is teaching in Hue College of Arts, just through an institutional project of Hue University. Phan Hai Bang specialized in applied art, but the very creative passion has driven him into this difficult and challenging road. From the powder paintings for an exhibition named Vong (Echo) in Sai Gon in the late twentieth century to the oil paintings influenced by surrealism and expressionism, he was further motivated to create and took to the Vietnamese bamboo.

Lots of people mistakenly think that Truc Chi is just a material to create handicraft products such as umbrellas, hats, fans, lights and books... To the public’s surprise, Phan Hai Bang launched the visual art exhibition "Truc Chi - Listen to the River" at Da Nang Museum of Fine Arts from September 30 to October 14 with a system of works expressed by Truc Chi art only, including the image of a Truc Chi River which is over 120m in length, 12 multi-meaning standing models of Truc Chi suggesting the image of the familiar ao toi (leaf raincoat) as well as the typical structure of Cham belief: yoni-linga with a system of images reminding of the ancient homeland…, sets of Truc Chi works on the wall with the same theme and image motif, and the surface effects. The system of Truc Chi works is arranged in the yard of the museum to exploit natural light ... with light and sound effects and video support. All are in harmony and turned into a "dialogue" with the exhibition space.

The exhibition in Da Nang

The works in this exhibition were made by ten artists of the Vietnam Truc Chi Art Project for nearly a year. Appearing on the bright yellow and light brown background are the portraits of the great men such as Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ, musician Trinh Cong Son, creator Steve Job... and other cultural symbols such as lotus, yoni-linga, antique patterns, the village houses, temples... Truc Chi seems to become a cinema where the films are alternatively shown. So strange a thing is that the colors painted on the Truc Chi background are almost monochrome, but always bring a cozy feeling to the viewer.

“Listen to the River” is the main theme of the exhibition, in which the stories are told through the art of Truc Chi, the hidden corners of the society are retracted into the arrays of brightness and darkness by the light distribution of the artist… and above all, it is the flow of the river, perhaps Huong River, Han River, Cuu Long River, Hong River… or the quiet river flowing inside us. Importantly, Phan Hai Bang revived the image of the village bamboos which was only concealed deep in the childhood of many Vietnamese generations to international friends, as an interaction between the tradition and modernity through his works and Truc Chi Group’s.

By Le Huynh Lam