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                   Ton That Bang - Memories: leaves and flowers.

                                                             Art critic Dang Tien


Relations between person to person, as is often due to environmental or social activities, started from a local. But sometimes by the fate,such as the friendship between me and  Ton That Bang, two strangers met in a charity gala evening, on the first spring day Dinh Suu, 2009, in Da Nang.
This time he highly inspired, prolific, create many large paintings, with personal style. He devoted himself to work for The Spring Exhibition 2011with the theme “ Memories, leaves and flowers” during two hard-working years. The “Memories” are by-gone days of the childhood. Childhood precisely is initial years of our lives. In fact, it is ever lasting in memory, subconscience or fantastic dreams. The early year is a long dream and drawing the childhood is to tell a dream in a dream. It has a large range of artwork related with the childhood.
Chagall- Master of the modern symbolism, despite the ages keeps on drawing sceneries of the childhood with wild lines and colors. And in deep conciousness, Master of the Vietnam modern art- Nguyen Tu Nghiem, also throbs with emotion covering memories, the past of our country with antique colors and patterns.
Thanh Chuong artist- the person closer to us, usually illustrates childhood memories in modern countryside scenes by lacquer paitings.
On the other hand, they all are different in styles. For instance, according to Thanh Chuong’s paintings, through the objects completely modernized, Art still depicts the countryside in presence. With Ton That Bang’s, on the contrary, there are almost no more reflections of society. The early days are focused on the wooden horses, a few little girls specialized whose dresses are sewn of leaves and skirts weaved of reeds. The girls are seen in many postures: some stand on two sturdy feet, some are to oscillate unbalancedly, likely to dance and fly without gravity. Besides, many objects are made to repeat, like the coins and the dices, as a symbol of a toss, including fates, lucks, choices and the random meets thothrough the worldly life. Is that the coins, together with the leaves hung on the tiny straight threads that imply the destiny which is like “………”  ?

Ton That Bang'Painting



And wooden horses- a children game, play an important role. Although it does not belong to Vietnamese tradition, it is popular all over the world. Even there was a great artistic and literary event in Western, called “ Dada”, namely “ Wooden horses”. Le Dat poet composed individually a unique poem about wooden horse, which is, however, connected with Ton That Bang’s:
Ngựa lên mấy
Mà nghìn tuổi cây

Và một tiểu sử người”
                                  ( Bóng Chữ, 1994, tr 55)  
( How old the horse is
But here is a thousand year-old tree
 And a biography ).

                                  (Shade of words, 1994, pg.55.)

Wooden horse, children's toy is a mean of adventure that more effective than horse. O Truy horse, Xich Tho of ancient  just ridden the highway measured in kilo-meter; wooden horses of  Bang’s arts wander in kilo-dream - words and photos of Le Dat. Wooden horse sometimes is real, its legs is real, swinging to a spot but with the “flying carpet” in the legend, that means it also has magic and other thaumaturgys. His childhood is a kingdom with borders, its own customs and laws. Even as a cosmic principle, its own planet system. 
Ton That Bang studied drawing skill by himself so that he doesn’t depend on any rules or style. He has the knowledge, personal experiences of visual arts, and apply his own techniques for drawing up his own dreams: to say that stuttering is clear that, rather than real dream is always its own private - despite besides that there is still a common dream, in the collective consciousness. 
Bang is a part of the ethnic nation, would certainly have to share the collective consciousness. His paintings brings playful, innocent, optimistic folk, people with bright colors on paper messages, which he has modernized.
For example, yellow rarely seen in Western painting, his preferred place on the painting’s background, in different ways, the color of autumn leaves with autumn color, which Nguyen Du known as the quan san color, when  rich yellow, light yellow turn into silk yellow, when gold yellow becomes a blaze of red maple leaves, brown earth, but in general, is very light and create warmth to the picture. On the warm, elegant background sometimes spendid, he had on a blue and green innocence, a sense of childhood innocence, in the traditional atmosphere. 

Wooden Horse of Ton That Bang



Ton That bang paintings are not under common law: as telecommunications access law, how to mix paint colors, bold strokes to create, 'best value' (valeurs) according to Western concepts of oil painting. Instead, the large distinctive marking structures of paintings by artist painting, such as folk painting  style ancient Egypt, or Dong Ho recently, but the color  and rich, modern, watermarking, joyful, so rich in decoration.
Two words "decorative"in a not distant past, while being cheap, has now been restored value. Object of art is created, the beauty of life, for life, so it has the function of decoration. True artist, when composed, put all his soul into the work, with the sole purpose is to create beauty. Then, the painting decorative effect or not is another person's story.
Chagall has painted ceiling decorations for the Paris opera, but when painting, his use of creative beauty, though he still works for decoration. Basically when composing, he is free or not, freedom and inspiration in creating the work, not relying on foreign workers, any external force. Besides, Nguyen Gia Tri artist has been painteddecorations, who dared to criticism?
Said that because the matter will be set to work Ton That Bang, petal fresh, light, not heavy melancholy nature of time, like some competition now. His style, its own place, create new spirit, the joy of painting in Vietnam so that viewers must evaluate justice, external habit and investment trends, professional bias.
Memories, leaves and flowers is a sketch dreams of childhood. In each dream how much truth? Of course the reality of the deep subconscious, expressed through the power of creativity.
Hardly anyone knows this dose, including artists.The specific, firstly beautiful paintings, beautiful like a dream. The dreams of the bright, innocent, peaceful and happy.
Childhood is a paradise missed.
Painting, off hundreds of thousands of connections, is happy to find again.

Art critic Dang Tien
Paris, 01-2011

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