Lebadang, master of the universeMarch 17, 2018 Posted by Write about Le Ba Dang
By Blair shiller
Few artists in any age attain the absolute authority needed to achieve a truly universal vision. For this reason, among others, a splendid ten year retrospective of works in several media by Lebadang is an important art event, at Circle Gallery, 468 Broadway, through May 20.
Born in Vietnam in 1922 and educated at the Ecole des Beaux- Arts in Toulous, France, Lebadang has been well known in Europe since 1950, when his first solo show in Paris received rave feviews in the French press. Lebadang made his mark in the U.S in 1966 with a major solo show at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
The present show at Circle Gallery is a thoughtfully curated survey of Lebadang’s oeuvre that reveals the evolution of his style and vision, from the whimsical linear pictographs of his “La Comédie Humaine” series of embossed lithographs, executed in the early 80s, to the complex cast paper collages and mysterious, tactile oils for which he is best known today.
All of Lebadang’s recent work (with the exception of the aforementioned series on Balzacean theme and one cast paper collage in which the fanciful figure of a horse appears) evokes either the mountainous topology of the earth or the mysterious swirling forms of the cosmos – each a mirror image of the other. Indeed, Lebadang’s work is all about his own relationship, as a representative man, to cosmic mysteries. His brave aim is to take us along on his journey, thereby broadening our vision beyond what he terms the “earthbound” approach to art.
Lebadang accomplishes his heady goal splendidly in his magnificent cast paper collages, with their sensuous embossed textures. He began creating these technically innovative pieces in 1985, and they have grown increasingly more complex in their layered form, which suggest the pale, pocked surface of the moon, as well as more earthly terrains. Some of Lebadang’s most recent collages include poetic watercolored stratospheres within window-like opening that expand the pictorial space infinitely inward, presenting poetic contrasts of strong visual and tactile tensions between illusory imagery and solid matter. Particularly powerful in this regard is the large cast paper collage “The Mirror of the Night”, with its monolithic black form ruptured by three large openings, revealing luminous watercolor skies.
Also including major oils, serigraphs, and embossed etching, this many – splendored Lebadang exhibition brings one up to date on the ongoing evolution of an important contemporary artist who fuses elements of East and West to express a unique world – view of truly universal significance.
New York, May 1, 1990 Artspeak