On the mysterious black background of “The Night Symphony” paintings by Dinh Quan there are clouds of color blocks blended into scrawling, zigzagging, and fractured drawing lines dancing together that create an illusion for viewers. In that illusion, viewers will look at themselves, feel themselves, and connect with themselves so that they can see most clearly their relationships and behaviors among people in real life.
Before meeting with Dinh Quan, one of the most talented senior lacquer artists of Vietnamese art, we had wanted to contemplate and to be drawn into his paintings of sexy, gentle and romantic Vietnamese women, which have brought him worldwide fame. It was surprising that he brought us into a totally different, abstract and fascinating world with “The Night Symphony” and “The Season Transfer” causing viewers to be hypnotized, summoning a mysterious inner world.
Dinh Quan said that he has long pursued these types of paintings, and they will be his lifelong choice. “To me, art is as a faith to win the heart. In recent works I imitate the life of present society as a large stage, on a deep and clear lacquer background like a night mirror. The viewers will interact with themselves when looking at that mirror. The curved, straight, zigzagging, and fractured drawing lines create signs which are symbolic for human behaviors in daily life, and color blocks like floating clouds create an illusion for viewers to have their own thinking about what they should do to become better in the society in which they live. I have been doing art works with that idea.”
How are your lacquer paintings different from those of other artists?
When I graduated and entered the path of painting, I noticed that my predecessors used to set standards for their lacquer paintings to be flat, smooth, and glossy. However I found if we have to follow steps, standards or principles when doing art, it will constrain our emotion. Without emotion, artists cannot make good paintings. So as long as the paintings can show well the artistic values inside, it does not matter whether they are flat, smooth, and glossy or not. And those are my types of paintings. Lacquer, oil, or silk are just the language of material, what makes a painting valuable is the artistry and the artist’s thought and the sentiment inside their paintings.
Your recent artworks show a very high abstraction. Why did you decide to pursue this type of painting?
We often think that abstract paintings are hard to understand. But actually this “Abstract” is exactly the “Reality” in the mind of both the artist and the viewers. The artist can draw what they like and feel, but it is viewers, not the artist, who will complete the painting. I want to be an artist who evokes as much “Reality”as possible for viewers when they look at my paintings.
What influences your art style the most?
Nothing but life and nature. I find inspiration from things around me. Sometimes it does not need to be specific things; they can be some kind of symbolic images or signals.
What is the artistic value in your recent artworks?
Some of my recent artworks named “The Night Symphony” show most clearly my current artistic ideals. To make these paintings I used a black patch of lacquerware because it is the darkest tone of the black color. And it makes the paintings’ background look like a mirror of night. In these mysterious backgrounds there are clouds of color blocks blended into scrawling, zigzagging, and fractured drawing lines dancing together that create the illusion for viewers. In the illusion, viewers will look at themselves, feel themselves, and connect to themselves so that they can see most clearly their relationships and behaviors among people in the real life. With this type of lacquer paintings the viewers must see alone. You cannot feel anything if seeing them with other people.
Does family life affect an artist’s feelings?
Yes, it is surely affects it very much. The artists who make abstract art works will bring signals from their life into their paintings. And there are signals of storms in their own life which create attractive paintings. If their life is always pink, they are likely to draw a beautiful girl!
Do you care about young artists and what can you do to help them focus their career?
I know some young Vietnamese artists and find that they are really devoted and burn themselves for the sake of art. However, for career orientation, I can not help. No one can give them recommendations or suggestions. When they start their career in art until their death, they are equal to each other and have their own ego. The difference of ego will create the uniqueness and distinctiveness of each artist’s work.
What elements contribute to your current success?
You can not be successful if you do not work hard, have passion, and remain devoted to your work. A talented artist without passion cannot be anything.
Have you ever thought about stopping your art career?
Never. Even if there is an afterlife, I still want to be an artist. Because the most successful thing in my life is that I have a great passion for painting.
As a person who started playing golf, what is the difference between an artist playing golf and a normal golfer?
Golf is a special sport, requiring players to conquer themselves. As an artist, even when playing golf, I care about nothing but aesthetics — a score or number of strokes is not important to me. I want to have a beautiful swing no matter how many times I have to drive or how many balls are lost. There really is a similarity between art and golf. That is the conquest of the beauty!