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Soul of city in Khanh’s artworks

TTH.VN - Upon contemplating the city in the brushstrokes of artist Hoang Dang Khanh, viewers seem to immerse themselves in many different emotions, ranging from peacefulness, romance, desolation, strangeness, sometimes solitariness and loneliness. This artist from Hue seems tireless after many years of pursuing the city theme. As for him, those city quarters not only nourished his soul but also gave him mixed memories of joy and sadness.

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 A city quarter in the brushstrokes of Hoang Dang Khanh

From “Chorus of the City” in 2014 to “Whisper of the City” in 2024, exactly a decade later, Khanh has endlessly pursued city storytelling through painting. The city in Khanh’s perspective has changed over the past decade, but one can feel the love for every quarter that they’ve ever visited when seeing his artworks.

Those who love adventure and wandering will not encounter any difficulties in recognizing the familiar city quarters, the stories of which are portrayed through painting by Hoang Dang Khanh. They are the familiar, nostalgic quarters of Hue, the ancient mossy sectors of Hoi An, or the dreamy Da Lat where Khanh spent his youthful years wandering.

“For me, each work is a beautiful memory. That could be the place where I was born and grew up, or the city quarters I frequent, meeting friends and relatives. Each place has its own specialness, and my memories are made up of them. Now I want to tell those memories with love and nostalgia on canvas,” confided artist Hoang Dang Khanh.

There are very narrow quarters crowded with doorways and trees amidst the city; there are sectors that are wide and long with a few dotted but soft spots; cramped neighborhoods with rows of high-rise buildings; blocks of houses overlooking the river or through the peaceful mountains and hills; night city sparkling with lights from ancient architectural works, etc. Just like that, Khanh leads the way so that viewers can see the familiarity and closeness as if they passed by and stopped at some beloved place like a slow motion movie.

At the exhibition “Whispers of the City” recently introduced to viewers by Hoang Dang Khanh in Saigon, many people couldn’t help marveling as if they were being held by the hand and guided through the endless expanses of color and time.

Le Thanh Phong,  a journalist, upon appreciating those works, exclaimed: “Hoang Dang Khanh took me through the space of Hue and Da Lat, where there are pensive quarters, houses on the sloping hills, sad mountain towns bowing their heads under the clouds, ancient moss-covered walls, etc.” Even more impressive to this visitor, Khanh’s paintings always show a glimpse of a church tower, somewhere in which hymns seem to be sung in the afternoon mist or under the moonlight at night.

More than a decade of pursuing his passion, Hoang Dang Khanh is still diligently pursuing the city theme as if he were following the footstep of his late father’s – artist Hoang Dang Nhuan. However, the city in Khanh’s artworks reflects his personal qualities and creativity based on his own perspective and exploration. Over time, all of these have been nurtured by this artist to shape his own style in the journey of discovery, creativity and commitment to art.

Story and photo: Nhat Minh
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