Far and Away North
“Far and Away North” is part of the series “Landscapes of Vietnam” that I’ve been working on over the last three years. Despite the title, contexts and spaces have well disappeared from their existence. I’ve drawn some temples and pagodas in the northern part of Vietnam based on their actual architectural and spatial drawings that are left over time.
In my previous landscape paintings which are on display at Quynh Gallery in Saigon, each of the landscapes still shows clearly the characteristics of its geographical origins as well as its own evolution. Then, once fosforesente is used in combination, landscapes gradually vanish into the infinite dark, just like the short journey of human natural life. But this time, there are mixed feelings from historic sediments left in the various cuts of time. Through all the ups and downs, when I encounter a reality “as is”, a question always emerges in me: is reality exactly what’s happening before my eyes, or is it another reality that I have to search for by tracing its origins? With help from a colleague of mine, I gain accidental access to detailed architectural drawings of all the temples and pagodas in the north of Vietnam that I am interest in. Having them in my possession, I can see clearly their real structures in the most complete way, and I can contrast them with the personal feelings I have when I visit them physically .
With all clouds of history, space and time lifted. At that moment, I think if I were lucky to live an evolution corresponding to the whole existence history of those temples and pagodas, what would space and reality be?
I envision green from spring grass, yellow from the earth soil, infinite fields beyond the horizon, a small humble foothill pagoda next to a green lake... I can envision nothing more. Maybe that’s as far as my imagination could go. Maybe to present time, all that’s left are just colors of nostalgia.
Reality happens as it did and always does. Nature by definition can always change. Time will never come back. In a faraway place in my subconscious, which I call “the North”, there is still some light blue melting away in the late afternoon, and I believe it is for the time being the North.
Hà Nội 18/10/2013
Hà Mạnh Thắng