Le Ba Dang
Art Foundation




May 9, 2018 Posted by Write about Le Ba Dang

Thuy Khue

Le Ba Dang’s “Cosmic Family” 2007 is still the domain where painting and sculpture have material and spiritual meaning: Drawing and cutting is one. Solid and soft is one, being the harmony of Human God and Earth God. It is empty but full, people – things in each other. Factors and extrinsic coordination. From stir to static, from thought to form, from technique to material, from reason to metaphysics, from human to nature, all were in the human realm of Le Ba Dang. At the age of almost ninety, painters increasingly want to progress to the Taoist realms.

The Cosmic Family is also the contrasting state of the world. Western style of Sartre: where there are humans, there are we; Our existence is through the humans’ eyes (l’autre). Thanks to them, we do exist

They-we, in Le Ba Dang’s works were not just two opposing characters, but any objects, creatures, etc., all pairs of opposing categories. Such as Humans with nature and living beings: as humans live with, live for, live by nature and living beings. Like humans and history: by the maker of history and history that governs man. Humans and the universe: humans are born in the universe and they inflict impact on the universe. Humans and space: humans who occupy space, find themselves small and helpless by the vast space. Humans and Times: humans measure time through their memory and flashbacks, but cannot cease time. These pairs of contrasting cymbals incubate in each other as yin and yang, mutated together in the realm.

The Cosmic Family – showing that birth – is not only in contrast but also in harmony; where the mind and human body are combined with space and time, internal and external harmony, human and the scenery are combined in the half-fair, half-earth, half-painting, half-carving features.

Buddha appeared, numerous times, everywhere, but not the Buddha, but is the “Buddhist life”, real life: Buddha at heart, mind is Buddha. So, in the form of the plays, ecstatic, romantic, melancholy, heroic, lovelorn, hides another mind, another truth.

Nguyen Du has expressed hundreds of thousands of faces, posture, the heart of the human incarnation in the art of letter creation. Le Ba Dang also seems to be showing the circumstances, the situations, the passion, the metaphysical phobia of people in the visual arts. His aspiration is to bring the human realm to cultivate in the heart of the country, in the centre of the terrain, the cultural centre: Hue imperial capital.

If this works, try to imagine a day walking down the hill and overlooking the Perfume River or on the way through the forest paradise, suddenly we encounter a form of mighty as the Buddha, or a silhouette of women gliding, or a group of fanciful shimmering rice burden … These figures can be of wood, bronze, steel, steel wire, barbed wire, any material, which can be carved on trees, hung on the branches, carved down the roads, placed on the pedestal, and also a giant form in space, including us and the scenery. Works of art can appear on the roads, in the landscapes, in the most unexpected places, and we have a strange feeling as we are at the same time inside, above and outside the work; This is because the works always present the face and harmony between them and us.

To express that state, Le Ba Dang used two elements namely emptiness and full as an art method.

In the picture, he first used the emptiness and full to make the shapes that we can see not only with eyes but also can go inside “it”, touch “it”, giving us the feeling of hands and feet also help contribute to the beauty: the work consists of us with the whole body. That’s about the picture.

Then he used the emptiness and full to form the souls of the forms, and to create the shadow of those spirits. Therefore, he also called his latest artistic entity “soul and shadow”. An image can have many shadows. But shadows are associated with ghosts in the soul of the Vietnamese, so humans and ghosts are sometimes as simply as shadows and pictures. Le Ba Dang seemed to want to express all spiritual and illusory connections, metaphysical tragedies in the mind of the Vietnamese: he wanted to express the birth in the human realm.

These things will be obvious, if you stand in front of the works. But if you do not have the opportunity to interact directly with the work, it will not be that easy. First of all, explanations are needed: what are emptiness and full in Le Ba Dang’s work? Why was he using the emptiness and full? The emptiness here (le vide) here has two meanings: literal and Buddhist meanings. Le Ba Dang used the second meaning: the emptiness is full and full is emptiness, he has sought to turn a yes into a no, and a no into a yes.

In what way? Very simple: He cut a paper (or any other materials) to make a certain shape that is already “full”, then he pierced other shapes inside that same shape. In other words, he created inside the full shape other gaps; this makes the full empty. Then those gaps, thanks to space and light, transform into vivid shapes; this makes the empty full. This move has anyone done in life (like making a bird, a paper airplane for kids to play) but we are often unaware of our actions, so we do not see variations and metamorphosis in movement. The variation and metamorphosis that the painter has just made and we have done without it, that is the specific meaning of the Buddhist spell: no visual marketing, no instant visual identity. It’s not there, but it’s there. But at the same time, it also has another meaning, it shows the dual quality in human beings: like the pictures with the shadows, like mind with soul, like death with life, in Tan Da’s poetry.

Once the picture and the shadow were all set, another problem arose: what about the human heart? How to find the heart? Human heart is an abyss, full of changes, sometimes is the angel, sometimes is the devil. To answer this question, Le Ba Dang created dissimilar figures and shapes: the human figure – the Buddha shadow, the human figure – the horse shadow, the human figure – the tree shadow, the human figure – the dog shadow, the human figure – the demon shadow. To him, humans are also ghosts: night of criticism, virtuous day.

Man cannot stand in the midst of the universe, but man stands in the universe, soul and body in symphony with the universe: Is the sea water blue? Or is blue in our eyes? Is that tree really shaking? Or the gale in the heart of the humans has shaken the leaves? Is that bouquet pink or purple? Or did the heart of humans dye it? If we do not know how to contemplate, the grass would be just stones. If we do not know how to contemplate, the stone would be just mud. If we do not know how to contemplate, then the mud would be just dirt. But if we do know how to contemplate, the ocean would turn into the blue sea, the grass would turn into a twilight grass shadow landscape, … Le Ba Dang wanted to show these shadowy grasses in his heart: therefore, in his graphic structure, sometimes a heart shaped a flower, a leaf, a hillside, a stream, etc. as if the people and the scene were in each other, were each other, with the same heartbeat: mind transmission, as the Buddha said.

How many kinds of people are there? The fair-like, the heart-broken, the pimps, the kind, the freaks, the gracious, the good-natured, the evil-doers; The artist expressed each individual in a letter-like form, these words are valued as a phrase (pimps, heartbreakers …) because it is not merely a letter, it is humans with a distinctive personality: the body is made up of words. Still, the situation of variants: colourless, Le Ba Dang presented the same army in human chess pieces, with the same characters standing together. Man exists, by action, by responsibility, by dealing with nature and by his own kind, forming his own language.

Yet again, do people have past and present? The painter answered: Yes, every individual has an epic masterpiece in his heart: Prehistoric people, Aulacese people, Tô Thị, Vận Hành, Thăng Long, Bến Ngự, Đồng Tháp, trans planters, people of yesterday, people of today. Looking at all of his new works, we will see: every form, every syllable in the human realm, which packs an organ, an age, which seems to have no individual escape from the past of ours and the nation’s.

Le Ba Dang wanted to bring the language of multi-faced people to put in the universe and in nature. He wanted to bring all the human aspects to cultivate on his hometown’s farm, the art of nature through history, the spirituality of man.

He wanted to set up a human realm based on Hue. The mind is Vietnam’s.