Dao Hai Phong, or My Saturday Affair

Published on May 10, 2005

How It All Began…
Last Saturday the weather forecasters predicted a rainy weekend. Somehow, even in the 21st century, we’re still paying people for predictions, and still getting surprised when they don’t presage reality.

I went out for a walk, to take advantage of the few moments before the rains came and thereby dispelled my propensity to look all about me on my ambles. I returned home 4 hours later, as dry as when I’d left the house, if one kindly overlooks my slight post-exercise flush.

On my excursion (sans rain), I’d bumped into a Gallerie l’ Indochine, which I’d never noticed before. Tucked into a beautiful brownstone, this little gallery houses Asian art and a Brilliantly British Man who introduced me to the paintings and their artists. I don’t honestly recall the name of the Burmese artist whose works graced the walls–his was a style that seemed to require some intellectualization or perhaps a greater understanding of Buddha than I have–but the three paintings that were newly arrived and leaned up on the wall were … spectacular.

That’s when I met Dao Hai Phong. Not in person. He’s in his late 30s or early 40s. A Vietnamese artist. His paintings would only set me back about $3K, which is fantabulous. I’ll check if I have the money in my other purse.

A Selection of Paintings by Dao Hai Phong, my latest love

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Dark Nights

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(I have no clue what this is called. I found it at “the Apricot Gallery.”)

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Boat by the Lily Pond

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(Another unknown name. Same gallery.)

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Sunset by the River

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Peaceful Village

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Rainy Day

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Pink Glow

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Grand Panorama

The First Art Lecture Ruth Has Ever Dared to Give
Apparently, Vietnamese art is rather influenced by Impressionism, not least as their primary art school was set up and fully stocked with a good share of French Impressionists in the 1860s. This influence has lasted, according to the Brilliantly British Man. In a book he showed me, Dao Hai Phong notes that freedom comes with a responsibility to explore, but also not to be caught by “false influences,” which will re-form Vietnamese art into its own image or mold. His art is dramatically different from his contemporaries, although apparently, our Brilliantly British Man tells me, there have been attempts to emulate his style.
And the Wrap-Up…
What a good weekend this one has been for love!

I returned home last night in a state of great excitement. Oh, how I entered the bookstore with tearful anticipation, dashing to the shelves which surely housed my Rilke, waiting for me so faithfully.

Dashed, I was forced to walk out without a book (I know, the shock), but I made up for this by immediately running into Barnes & Noble, where I found my Rilke in abundance (and near Rimbaud). I brought home his selected poetry, translated by my dear Stephen Mitchell.

All is good once more. 🙂 May everyone else’s day be as blessed. 🙂

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