Biography - Pham Luan - Toriizaka Art
With Pham Luan, in his studio high above West Lake in Hanoi, where he finds inspiration for his painting.

Pham Luan

Pham Luan was born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1954. He graduated from the Hanoi Teacher’s Training College and is a self-taught visual artist.

Pham Luan has been featured in Asian Art News on three occasions and several of his paintings are in the permanent collection of the National Fine Art Museum of Vietnam and in notable private collections throughout the world.

He is a highly acclaimed member of the Vietnam Fine Art Association and the Hanoi Fine Art Association and specializes in oil painting.

Pham Luan has traveled the world at the request of numerous organizations and patrons and, as a result, his paintings reflect the land and cityscapes from his travels. He is provided with a constant source of inspiration by memories and images of his worldwide travels.

During his first visit to Japan in November 2015, Pham Luan was instantly captivated by the beautiful landscapes and vibrant autumn foliage. At that time, most cherry trees were bare, with only a few remaining leaves on some branches. Luan knew then that he had to come back in spring to witness for himself the change of seasons and the emergence of spring. Thus, in March 2016 he returned with his family, re-visiting places he had explored on his earlier trip and adding new destinations famous for their seasonal beauty. Some of these included Shinjuku Gyoen and the Imperial Palace in Tokyo; Kinkakuji Temple and Arashiyama in Kyoto as well as other places famous for their Hanami Matsuri. These two memorable trips became Luan’s inspiration for this exhibition capturing his perspective of Japanese landscapes and people.

An autodidact in oil painting, Pham Luan has been painting for over 4 decades and has exhibited numerous times in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Hanoi. He first became well-known in Vietnam for his impressionist style paintings of his hometown, Hanoi. In the early 2000’s, he started to travel and was of course, compelled to paint the sights and scenes that he encountered. In 2003, he was invited to hold a solo exhibition of his paintings depicting Venice by Galerie La Vong in Hong Kong. From this point on, there has been no stopping his passion for travel coupled with his passion for expressing his impressions with his brush and vibrant oil paints on his canvases.

In his first exhibition in Japan, Pham Luan explores the country’s natural beauty through his portrayal of native trees such as ginkgo, cherry and maple. The stunning trees in different hues, shapes and compositions become the main subject of many exhibited paintings. The trees are portrayed through layers and blotches of paint, each building upon another to create tactile surfaces and depth. The landscapes in this group of paintings range from familiar landscapes such as Chidorigafuchi and Icho Namiki in Tokyo, to scenes that might be observed anywhere in Japan with roofs, gates of houses and temples that appear here and there beneath the trees.

A note-worthy work in this exhibition is the three-panel painting of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. Layers of strong brushstrokes in striking red and orange colours recreate the numerous maple trees on the temple ground. The main hall and wooden stage of the temple seem to rise up from the sea of leaves. In the background the city of Kyoto spreads out underneath a blue sky with drifting clouds. Luan originally intended this to be a one-panel painting, but after much consideration, he decided to create a large triptych because he felt this format would allow him to fully convey the magnificent view of the temple and the city beyond.

Tokyo’s bustling energy was recreated vibrantly in ‘Shibuya Crossing – A Rainy Afternoon’. In the midst of rain, hundreds of umbrellas criss-cross through the famous intersection. Bright lights emanate from large advertising screens, from shops and restaurants and from vehicles on the road. His bold impasto brush strokes, his depiction of light and shadow, his use of colours and composition are developed from his admiration of the Impressionists. “His paintings not only convey the physical landscape but also deliver the soul of each place.”

The 25 paintings in this exhibition represent different facets of Japan, from natural landscapes to daily life scenes. Pham Luan believes that there is still so much more to explore here in the “Land of the Rising Sun” and hopes to continue with future exhibitions to showcase the beauty of this country.

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