About Ly Hung Anh

To be able to appreciate how the career of artist Ly Hung Anh started is not easy at all. We have talked together many times. Attending his first solo exhibition in a small street gallery owned by an artist-friend, I was impressed by his black and white paintings. One in particular was that of a sick man lying on a bed. The patient seemed to be suspended as time and air stood still. The patient’s eyes are tired and blurred. It is a glimpse of his destiny, frozen in the moment. This was the strength of Ly Hung Anh’s work. An artist might spend a lot of time just studying people who live close to him until he reaches a certain moment when he starts to reflect it on his canvas. That moment for Ly is special. We see it emerging in the vast mystic white spaces in many of his paintings.

Ly Hung Anh wanders in the spaces he creates. These are multi-dimensional spaces of black or white. He does not seek to explain his subjects. He lets their character flow unidentified in the paintings such as Brother Hiep. This might be the most attractive element in his portraits. His characters are not affected by emotions. The portraits are often painted on square canvasses. They can be seen from different directions. Gravity becomes excessive if we do not need a common vertical viewpoint.

In his landscape paintings, Ly Hung Anh does not seek to describe a special village in the north of Vietnam. Each landscape painting embodies a journey from place to place and between space and time. They reflect a spiritual rather than physical world. The figures in the landscapes do not look like they belong. This seems to defy gravity. The artist seeks to exclude all emotions and links to the physical. Everything is frozen in the moment. “Churches under the clouds”, “Cửa Nam street after the rain”, “A conversation and wandering” are described by the possessive memories of life but transformed into a different dimension.

And I suddenly understand what he said to me: “For me, black and white are colourful… They contain many colors”

It is not easy understand Lý Hùng Anh’s art, even if you know much about life. His art is elusive. It captures our emotions in drops of acrylic. You will see small spots of light as the short, exhausted journey of a destiny.

It might be a way that the identity of the artist is discovered./.

Hà Mạnh Thắng – artist

(written in Hanoi, 15 June 2011 – for solo exhibition “Stories without dialog by artist Lý Hùng Anh, Ernst & Young Asean Art Outreach, Singapore, August 2011)