Nguyen Cam
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20-03-2008
VietNamNet Bridge – The ultimate healer and destroyer - time - is the subject of a new exhibition by overseas Vietnamese artist Nguyen Cam.

All completed since 2003, the 54 pieces at the show Dong Thoi Gian (As Time Goes By) reflect Cam's hybridity as a Vietnamese man living for the last 30 years in France.

Enhancing the idea of the cultural and ephemeral, Cam uses a medley of different media from natural materials like wood and coarse canvas to items laden with cultural significance like vang ma (votive paper money and goods).

Cam also uses calligraphy to express the relationship between time, trend and tradition. "I feel energised when I come to Vietnam. That's why I don't want to learn Japanese or Chinese calligraphy," he says.

Giving his painting Thoi Gian va Thu Phap (Time and Calligraphy) an extra-antique feel is another more unlikely ingredient - tea bags.

"Everyday we drink tea, the colours and textures of the tea are never the same. I see it as similar to our daily lives: each day is different. For this reason I use tea bags to show gradual changes in time."

In his seven oil and canvas pieces, Cam uses the Japanese Ginkgo tree to express another angle to his theme - death and rebirth. "The Gingko tree was the first tree to grow after the Hiroshima bomb in Japan. Everything was obliterated but then slowly came back to live. I chose the tree as a symbol of strength and endurance," Cam says.

War is a big feature of Cam's work. Born in 1944 in Hai Phong, a city that was to feel the brunt of US bombing alongside Hanoi, Cam's childhood was riddled with vivid memories of war.

"I painted a series of realistic and fantastic paintings called Vong Hon (Wandering Souls) to relay the memories of the war victims," he says.

His message is universal but his style is unique, according to one visitor to the exhibition, Andonia from Austria.

"His paintings are unlike anything I've seen before. His strong colours and creative style make his work unique."

This sentiment is shared by journalist Eric Fottorio.

"In his eyes and through his precious and precise hands, Cam translates the wrinkles of time into his work."

The exhibition runs until January 1, at the Viet Art Gallery, 7A Nguyen Khac Nhu Street, Hanoi.

(Source: Viet Nam News)