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Rung Takes Viewers on a Journey into the Unknown

by Long Nghi

Source: Viet Nam News – Thursday, July1, 1999 – page 19

Visitors to the exhibition In the Ethereal World at Tu Do Gallery may find themselves taking a Journey into the unknown courtesy of artist Rung (Nguyen Tuan Khanh).

Each abstract painting displayed invites the viewer to join the artist in an imaginary game. The thirteen oils on canvas exhibited all share the same title and the same theme; transcending the physical world into an inner silence.

Rung, a nick name meaning forest, says he began his painting career with figurative works that leaned towards an emotional, moody surrealism.

He developed though years a unique technique to express a wide rang of styles and subjects, from social commentary to portraits of psychological trauma.

He says that he used to think that "art should be socially responsible."

But in 1992 he moved abruptly towards abstraction and started with a fanciful series of somewhat randomly-produced compositions that he presented in an exhibition titled Wandering in Dreamland - Light and Darkness, the following year.

The series led the viewer into an alien world created by Rung's powerful imagination.

In the Ethereal World is a subsequent journey and represents a further step in the artist's vision.

Works included in the exhibition impress with their simplicity and quixotic composition. Each has a sense of lushness created through the use of colorful gloss paints and a feeling of serenity engendered by their velvet like surfaces.

Colors and composition are two important factors in Rung's abstract works: Usually, his colorful non-figurative designs are organized in a striking geometric structure, ensuring visual harmony.

But the world he reveals, beyond its surface of visual beauty and simplicity, is in fact a world of chaos. It is a world of contrasts; between darkness and light, of red and black, enlightenment and ignorance, joy and introversion, good and evil.

His works often features contrasting areas of brilliant light, with powerful red, yellow, or azure, and deep shades of browns, blacks, and dark blues.

Rung chooses abstraction as a means to escape reality, and to engage on a Journey to discover the "truth" of the universe.

Through his works, the artist shows that he is conscious of the limits of the human world. He understands that we are each trapped in space and time and will never achieve our dreams.

Abstraction provides Rung with the freedom he needs to express his views.

Through abstraction he can move from this world of prejudice, bias, conventional notions, and pre-defined or fixed concepts.

He fills his paintings with non-figurative shapes to express a total freedom that is only available through thought and imagination.

The exhibition continues at Tu Do Gallery, 142 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, until July 20.

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