Ha Noi artist Dinh Y Nhi asks passionate questions (November 17, 2003)

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Lady in red: The Inner World of Dinh Y Nhi No. 16

Bold in colour, swollen in emotion and quixotic in gesture, the works of Dinh Y Nhi reveal the artist from the inside out in her latest series of paintings on display at Gallery Art Vietnam in Ha Noi.

Impressionist artist Nhi, one of the leading painters of her generation, has painted her internal life on canvas in over 30 large-scale oils on exhibit. Solitary figures are surrounded by a passionate field of red as a means to emphasise her hidden sentiments.

“When I talk to people about my paintings, a subject of my great concern, I realise that they have so many alternative interpretations and strange speculations about them,” Nhi said. “Some of them wonder if I am having problems with my personal life, or doubt I am leading a normal life.”

“My paintings reflect lost stories about the love of my family and country. What is life? I think it is like a river that flows before my eyes,” said Nhi.

Born in Ha Noi in 1965, Nhi honed her skills at the Ha Noi Fine Arts College where she graduated in 1989. She has displayed her art in solo and joint exhibitions around the world, including Canada, the United States, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh and Europe.

Nhi has returned from a hiatus during which she started a family. The gallery’s art director says the new mother has returned to the art scene with renewed vigour apparent in her work.

I was overwhelmed by the force and energy exuding from the canvas,” said Suzanne Lecht. “Her work is unimaginably stronger, the power of her emotion and thought process cannot remain on the surface of the canvas: it jumps and weeps, screams and ponders, suspended in one moment of time and yet never static.”

Lecht first met the artist at Nhi’s solo exhibition in 1994. She recalls the impressive difference that made Nhi stick out from the arts scene: “Against the popular backdrops of war, family and village-themed lacquer, and silk paintings, Nhi’s uniquely singular works of twisted, anguished stick figures, starkly painted in black and white gouache were possessed with a hungry, primitive energy that palpably demanded a visceral reaction from the viewer.”

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