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Lieu Nguyen Huong Duong

Born in 1975, Lieu Nguyen Huong Duong graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University in 2001. He became a member of the HCMC Fine Arts Association in 2003 and in 2005, was recognized as one of the leading young contemporary Vietnamese painters when asked to participate in his first solo exhibition.

Lieu Nguyen's paintings demonstrate his passion for color and intensity. His brilliant flower petals and leaves represent dream-like fantasies in magical lands. The mesmerizing images of resplendent scenery and blossom trees in the spring captures our imagination, transporting us to a place of meditative and calming solitude.

Lieu Nguyen describes his process of creation as that of an “action painter”. Like Jackson Pollack, he paints with his canvas stretched out on the floor beneath him. The canvas is anchored to a stretcher as in traditional oil or acrylic paintings but there is a minimum of 1.5 meters on each side allowing him ample space to move around the canvas dropping and splattering his paint in the exact area he wants. When viewing his paintings closely, it is apparent that drops are scattered and placed on previously placed drops while the canvas is still wet, creating unique droplets and allowing the colors to blend ever so slightly. Since he works with acrylic paints that dry rapidly, the addition of more colors and layers has to happen quickly – in fact, each painting has to be completed in a single day.

According to the renowned art critic Harold Rosenberg, the core essence of “action painting” is that “it is not a picture but an event”. The artist is not just a painter but a performer. When Lieu Nguyen paints, he experiences an overwhelming surge of emotions that compels him to 

create. The process and inspiration may be fleeting – certainly not something that happens every day and not on command – Lieu Nguyen says that his own mindset is similar to being in a state of frenzied ecstasy. His paintings however, unlike Jackson Pollack (the most well-known action painter) have a significant amount of planning and calculation associated with them. “I act using a combination of colors that are predetermined according to a specific theme in my mind and I work continuously until I am content with the painting.”

Although his paintings are technically abstract, they are intentionally representative. Perhaps most curious and unique about his works is his methodology (the pure spontaneity of an action painting) with his concurrent observance of recognized art techniques. In the end, Lieu Nguyen Huong Duong is not particularly concerned with a classification or title for his style of painting, instead, he humbly seeks to create pieces of beauty with personal meaning.

Over his almost 20-year career, Lieu Nguyen has created portraits, animals, blossom trees, seascapes and landscapes. His current focus and passion is landscapes. He enjoys the planning process of harmonizing and balancing the colors for each of his paintings as well as the active technical and physical process of dropping and spattering the paints to create light, shadow, depth and gradations in tone. Unless he’s drawn a base branch or tree trunk, he never actually touches a brush or knife to his canvas.

Despite being scaled down in size and limited to a two dimensional canvas, the trees, hills, blossoms, and grass painted by Lieu Nguyen pull us in to his works, enveloping us with feelings of size, dimensionality and grandeur usually only experienced with open and untouched land.

Although Lieu Nguyen's painting style is characterized by frenetic energy and his canvases are flooded with bold and expressive color, the resulting paintings exude a peaceful energy and offer each viewer an aura of tranquility and an opportunity to escape the burdens of reality. As a viewer, getting lost in his paintings is a given – and with each new exploration, comes new discovery, new understanding and renewed calm.

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