LEBADANG’S LIFE JOURNEY
I have always wanted to escape from the weather-beaten paddy fields ever since I was a child, which makes a long way until today (1940 – 2005). During that time, I had next to nothing and suffered from lack of knowledge, so I left my family in my hometown (Village of Bich La Dong, Commune of Trieu Phong, Province of Quang Tri) for the Western countries, landing among the French colonial government staff to find a way that helps end the simultaneous invasion in my fatherland. I didn’t know what to do and where to go to, either, but I knew that leaving was a must and the heart of the matter was how I could do to change the circumstances and stay away from the grip of backward poverty.
The ship arrived in Masela after more than one month (on February 1940). What a strange country! Women were not wearing pants (but there were skirts), the trees were without leaves, the people were eating without using chopsticks, it was raining without water (but ice instead), the locals were walking dogs, kissing them, and not eating dog meat. Surprise after surprise had come; one had better learn day in day out, from dusk to dawn, when being full or hungry, because new things would take place all the time; one could learn how to eat properly with utensils and how to do something right culturally from teachers, friends, or even strangers.
After two years of such a prison-like life as a soldier, I was determined to try leading a decent life as it was said that, ‘Diligence is the mother of good fortune.’ Despite the lack of material and spiritual support at work and at school, I started learning French and drawing. Why drawing? It was because the Toulouse School of Fine Arts was the only one institution that accepted me, and trained me to be a painting artist (1942 – 1948). Life had trained me to be patient, resourceful, industrious, and stubborn enough to refuse the slavery to a school unlike anywhere else, neither Eastern nor Western, contemporary or classis; if I agreed I would say it and if not I would readily share my critical analysis. Many a time I did not feel satisfied with what I had drawn and my bad temper would destroy it all. Just then I hugged it again, knowing that the “me” here was not flexible and flattering enough for my old age. After graduation in 1948, I headed towards Paris, where there were plenty of smart people coming to this art capital of the humankind; however, if I were to survive there, I had to acquire a good wealth of knowledge and experience. I had barely had any of it back then, I still do not possess such a thing, but I strongly believe that, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune”.
In Paris, the sun was shining on everyone no matter race they belonged to and no matter how rich they were, either. I wandered around this city like a homeless person, finding it hard to fit in with the society full of the unpredictable and privacy-oriented culture. I must know where to go and where not to go, when to row and when not to row, growing with not only my own talent but also flexibility and the ability to foresee circumstances as well. Observe the world, select who to befriend with, and checkmate your opponents!
Then one day (1949) I passed the shortest way of Paris, next to the River Seine, in front of the Virgin Mary. The road named “Fishing Cat” (La rue du Chat qui Pêche). I do not remember whether I was exited or not, but because of the circumstances, I drew some cats, each one pens a stroke. I found the cat dealer at the corner of the “Fishing Cat” and so I learned to start fishing. Living on cats, today many people still remember to enjoy their early frugal time. Drawing cat was a good way to earn a living. Drawing horses was like running fast forward. I drew enough of a horse, of all kinds. Stand horses, lying horses, black horses, red horses and even two-headed or three-headed horses. The horses were galloping; I kept on drawing. Drawing horses helped me make ends meet; it would offer a more stable life to my wife and son. The books on horses were without words, but there were dozens of color prints on the stones, in the fields,… I rearranged the white horse print, making the book “Eight Horses” with Chinese friend Chou – Ling, he wrote very short poetry as Tang. I found technical embossed print on a white handmade paper thing for letters and horses, colorless. It was the first time many newspapers mentioned to colorless book, unclearly was it worth anything? But fortunately the book sold out immediately and were displayed in glass cases between The National Library in Paris. High pride and joy, almost every day I had to watch my horses galloping in a glass case. The technique was not imperfect, the printing was not complete but it also helped me have more courage and confidence. And then, dozens of horses that prints that several dealers pre-order, one to two hundred copies printed form but not enough. Almost in the US, many Cowboys become wealthy and needing horses painting. Many galleries exhibited Le Ba Dang’s horse paintings. Until I went to the United States (1971) to go around the states to do exhibitions, the Americans called Libidang horse which I did not know was my horse. Horse kept running, I kept urging galloping horse to buy more cars, buy houses seaside resort Mediterrannos (Cannes).
Why Cannes? Because I want to take a bath with the royal kings. I love horses for many reasons, but horses do not love me. Many times I want to do horse riding on horseback but the horse is too wise not to let me want to do as well as in the picture. Horses cause me to fall down, swollen head, suddenly falls in love for a few days. Many dealers to visit and advised to be careful because they also need my skills. I’m sure my life is worth it. There are good sellers, want to sign exclusive contracts. I painted a horse, he sold horses so I did not worry about running back and forth. But I did not have to be a horse (born slaves). I refused to sign a contract for freedom and more in my life where only horses are enough and besides, I do not have to run for food, because my horse works for me. My body stunned, I do not understand why people like my horse so much. Perhaps the horse is a decorative animal, easy to see? Does the horse bring happiness? Or is my horse something special that I do not know? There are some colleagues (a tiny woman with big mouths) backbite: Le Ba Dang is not a horse artist but a professional animal dealer. “Even one said reclining said tilt”. For my part, I believe that there are souls of the relatives of the other world still pursuing and helping me stay awake, looking back on life, not only horse paintings, carriages are enough. I live full with horses but my horse is still it and I remain me. Adding to my horse paints I draw boats, fishing net, water, fancy scenery. It is mesmerizing, fluttering the eyes of ordinary people, if I want to entice buyers, I just have to create scenery just fun outside the eyes, without the depth of the inside. Looking back at the next few years, the painting was like “the lake, the well”, look ashamed.
With the invasion of my hometown, it brought me to the image of the suffering people and brought me to the “indomitable landscape” (1970) describing the road from North to South that the Western press praised daily. In the jungle, in the mountains, under the mountains, bombs constantly, all against human. The atmosphere is erratic, dangerous, but people are still rocky. This is the path of my country.
This is not a political tendency, factions that are knowledgeable about the trust, the creative ones gritty of the fellow want to live, not subject to slavery, give all the ingenuity, strength and confidence to against foreign aggression. The Chinese built the Great Wall of brick and stone to prevent foreign invasion. My compatriots opened the trail from North to South with the strength of the weak to find a way to live. I embrace the path with color, with the art of the high door house in the middle of Paris, and then show off many of the land to pay tribute to those who have sacrifice from blood and bones in this way. What’s more beautiful? My paintings are more artistic and indomitable spirit, and I am proud to present many times, many countries, Sweden, France, America … I put in all my soul, talent and heart, pride, respect the people unyielding. The exhibition title is: INDOMITABLE LANDSCAPE. In 1976 I was allowed to return to my hometown after 36 years of separation. There are people too careful, carrying my suitcase to see if there is something missing? There are other sentimental people who have read newspaper pictures of my paintings abroad, take me to see the REAL road. Thank you to those who have given me the opportunity to set foot on the REALIFE picture, give me a chance to compare the TRUE and the icon. Several days along the trail, my people like the province as a dream. I think that if I bring the shelf and brush here to draw, then I certainly cannot do as in Paris, because today I lost the faith that I cherished for several years.
The next is was a very important stage, it disturbed my whole life that I do not want to talk about doing this. But for the first time I witnessed something that went against nature, with human sentiment, among like-minded people. It divided the divine among the sacred of my people and me. My whole nation won the battle and I lost my country. However, the country song is still in my heart:
“When sky and the nation remains
When there is still the girl sells alcohol, I’m still drunk”
Maybe I’m too drunk, so disappointed that I cannot do anything for months. My mind is empty, the inspiration is cut off, the mind is like lovelorn. Months of living in the nightmare difficult to describe, a whole ton of humanity. I live to hate people, bad people.
My wife and son gave me a reason to live. A few months later I started painting flowers. Drawing flowers is to make life a little brighter. Flowers on the muddy dirty. Is my flower different from my friends? The flowers of my friend have many colors, branches, stigma, even have girls put flowers comb hair, standing dreaming, dreaming flowers or compare with flowers. My flower is cold, naughty, profanity is unclean. But anyway the flowers also bring me normal life. See flowers that think of branches. Flower color is only to cover the evil, the unclean, but the flower form is a simple form, scary eyes of the hard.
At the end of the season I draw people. In the past, I have attached great importance to my uncle, my mother, my family has created the folds. I love people, love human beauty, manners, feelings between people that now hated to hate people, because they lose their conscience, losing character, real people. Where else: “If your sister falls, your brother lift?”. Where else: “A piece when hungry with a package when it is full,” “Brothers as limbs”, where human beings become human. In painting, I have no talent to paint this man, woman. My human beings are people in human tragedy, I even rage it to meet. A sky of hate, true, cunning, deceitful, flattery, love, enmity, gimmick, bite the hand that feeds, lie teacher trick friend, live like a play, wearing a mask, taking strength as the foundation, taking money to replace the folds of the old, black and white mixed up, disturbing family affection, friends, brothers in the same direction, remove the old folds.
I want to point out the hides in the flesh, the clothes, the mask that the mediocre eyes rarely see or need the eyes of the heart.
I questioned, all the problems in the profession and especially in friends, society. It can be described or not, it is a profession. I try to make it through paintings, books, stone prints, zinc, bronze, wood, terracotta. Often in the filthy, dirty, I still find the face of each of them.
My work can be hung on the wall, in the middle of the table, on the shelf, wrapped around the neck, attached to the shirt, rolled into the hands, worn on the shoulder, hidden in the cabinet, distant garden or to curse the heartless. I have repeatedly put out places where I have not been satisfied, so I still hang around with people to love, to hate. Maybe I will continue until I have no more love, no more hate.
That’s a ton of fun, it chases back to me
The darkest time of my life happened in 1980 when the only son of mine got sick and passed away. I had to suffer a mental crisis, with a dark mind and a dark soul. It started attacking.
Family scenes disintegrate because of the rebellion. While my three brothers sacrificed, my father was wrongfully murdered, unconscionable, inhuman, my mother lack, sadness also left the descendants gone. The house burns into ashes and the wind blows away ashes. It’s a tragedy where people are the mainstay. What man?
My parents are in the heaven but still pursue the blessing of their first son, helping the child back to do business, pursuing the same career as before.
Refusing to ever give up, within a few months I made a dozen samples of colorful prints on stone (lithography) each printed a few hundred copies. Many wooden statues, statues of steel are marketed with jewelry, jewelry with fine arts such as works made to make luxury, expand the market, expand tragedy.
In all the works, I deliberately made my soul crawl in here. Then I made my child’s grave with a very hard and glittering tin like a mirror. On the grave, there are more than a dozen small statues depicting my child’s life, a tree with leaves rotated by the wind, the pipes whining at the wind blowing steel, a night light, green and white flowers. Attaching life to death into a block. Looking at the grave my child has a star, there are sun, flying birds, clouds, in the depths of infinity.
Exists and nothingness. Nothingness and existence.
Every day we go to the grave, feelings help us to live again. From here I found a new space where there are pictures of my baby. There is love and art together. From now on, I will not look directly at people and things that look down from the air, from many angles, like flying birds or like astronauts. Man is no longer cumbersome details but lacking pure then that person sucks?
My human shape is enough; my inner space is separated.
Whoever says anything, I’m just as good as a tripod. :))
I also do not want to use precious materials but only the material available around. There is no need to present pictures or statues, or architecture, but all is one, as long as the pleasant, pleasing beauty is enough.
Occasionally, I laid out a rugged paper like a stone face with his French friend (Henri Dachane) specializing in paper making. The paper is very thick, easy to tear, easy to cut, easy to paste to replace the old. With paper, with the way of looking from many angles, with the eyes of the mind, the heart, I draw a new technique does not imitate anyone, creating a new space. A world of my own, human sentiment is still the main character. It is a space that brings newness to the international art scene. There has painting, carving, construction, harmonious society all to do into something no. Disturbance of all the trails, principles, schools, old theories.
People called it “The space of Le Ba Dang”.
My space is displayed in many galleries in many countries, especially in America and Japan. I live by my physical, mental and physical space. There are so many people in the world, so I’m hard but not alone. There are also people who are affectionate, cultured, knowledgeable, respectful of my art, and mine, although I am not their race
They invited me to be an honorary citizen of the city (New Orleans) when I came to the exhibition. At the same time, Louisiana declared one day Le Ba Dang. I am very happy and proud. They give me the first prize and each year it is awarded to a talented, loving character. From bottom of my heart, thank you all.
They considered me through the work, my way of living because they know in my work that there is enough about me. Even if we disagree with each other in the great spirit of human intellect, it is different from the way we think a thief knows a thief as a wolf knows a wolf. If we are bad, everyone is bad. Others gave me the “Order of French Art” in 1991.
I thank all those who have respect for my art. I ask you readers not to think that I want to show off, but the fact is I am proud that I am worthy of my parents’ children, I am worthy of my countrymen whom I remain attached to and they are attached to me, Look at me like a flower blooming on a tree. On the other hand, I live in a society where people are not despised and favored. At this point I do not forget that my wife has suffered a lot of material deprivation in the early days and my artist is not so easy. I also did not forget a group of friends who still cultivate friendship from day to day.
Far from home country now nearly 65 years but from the idea of writing, living both our wife still heading home country. My family has a lot of brothers and sisters living in the spirit of countryside mother land, to censure each other, do not friction. Growing up like a good green tree, there are insects all over. And most of all this time, I cannot avoid double-dealer.
From now on I try to distinguish between good and evil in people, but I do not distinguish drawing, shaping, engraving, building, writing or anything else. Every art is one, going into beauty is enough. Technique is by hand, thought is the mind, the material is everywhere. Without anything, use nothing. If we lack, we use poverty. Use nothing with the mind, emotions. There is theory “sắc sắc không không” then.