LE TUAN RY
By Lananh Lê
After traveling from a small town in central Vietnam to Singapore to gain exposure in visual art by enrolling in LASALLE College of the arts, Le Tuan Ry has been exploring mixed-media experiments on combining different materials and techniques in highly patterned, textured abstract paintings. Ry’s art career started in 2017 with his first solo exhibition, “Un Es Sence” at Chaosdowntown, an important art spaces for young artists in Ho Chi Minh City, which was sponsored by the Embassy of Denmark in Viet Nam.
Ry’s abstract metaphors deal with the relationship between humans and their environment, cultural beliefs, and religions, specifically about pathology in the human body, anatomy, life and death, destruction and rebirth. His paintings are abstracted realities and landscapes of the universe, informed by the local cultural contexts of his daily life.
303001 is Ry’s solo exhibition, debut to his long-term 3030 project. Taking place at Bann Bar, a rooftop lounge with a view overlooking the skyline of downtown Saigon, the exhibition 303001 brings colors and illumination to the brooding dark cloudy atmosphere of the rainy season. The title, 303001, is based on the dimensions of his paintings (30cmx30cm), smartly arranged into a palpable series, featuring mesmerizing abstractions on canvas and layered clear plastic. Ry’s choice of materials, dimensions and techniques is strategic, taking into consideration his current approach and resources. Departing from his past practice on large paintings (up to 180cm × 390cm), Ry now makes a logical choice to work on small paintings of the same dimension (30cmx30cm) in order to focus on miniature details, commanding his current studio space, and limiting the cost and time spent on his artwork. He shares that after graduating from LASALLE College of the arts, he yearns to have more freedom in his practice and make smarter choices. With small paintings, he can dedicate time to oversee every little detail in the work. Transporting small works from his studio to the exhibition venue is also less taxing than doing so with large works.
The 303001 painting series was made over the course of six months. Each painting begins on a canvas, and undergoes changes that are later on layered on top of the canvas in clear plastic. During these six months, Ry looks back at his work in progress and edits them multiple times. He uses clear plastic to track his own markmaking throughout time. Each layer of clear plastic reflects what is happening in his life at that point in time. The paintings have their own lives, containing Ry’s own personal memories and stories.
The abstractions in Ry’s paintings are reminiscent of the nervous system, veins in the body, neurons and axons that link our biological beings together. There are double or multiple meanings in the abstractions where they also represent a panorama of the Earth, as if taken from a satellite, far above ground. The paintings reflect Ry’s fascination with the human body and discerning the Earth from above, through the views of God, or an airplane, or drone cameras.
The small size of the paintings in 303001 allow Ry to act like a metalworker or jeweller. The details of abstractions, carefully hand-painted and layered to each minute detail, are as if they have been made by the hands of a meticulous goldsmith. Ry constructs own imaginary, dreamy universes with both meditative strokes and carefully calculated mapping coordinates. The result is unquestionable: a coherent series of metaphorical and celestial paintings.
The turnout at the exhibition was striking; the crowd included art lovers, curators, organizers of the Saigon creative scene. Over less than 24 hours after the opening night, Ry has sold more than half of the paintings in the exhibition.
More of Le Tuan Ry's works are availale for viewing on his Facebook page: