Dang Duong Bang and the Ephemeral Sublime (Section 2)

By James Bulman-May PhD
Associate Professor in Art History and Interculture Communication
University of Copenhagen

Bang’s women: uterocentric maps to unified selves

In Bang’s oeuvre women figure as a unifying force, muses of fertility, spiritual insight, and inspiration. Among the seminal works hovering in the background one could mention Velazquez’ “Venus at her Mirror” (1651), Goya’s Maja (1799), Manet’s groundbreaking Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863), and Modigliani’s expressive nudes. Other standard works in the European canon come to mind, especially Matisse, Picasso, and Chagall’s wide spectrum of variations on the theme of the female nude. Matisse’s - and for that matter Flaubert’s - fascination with oriental odalisques find mirror images in Bang’s counter discourse. His fervent representations of European sensibilities spiced with Asian emotive depths address and reverse the orientalist gaze taken for granted by generations of European painters from Poussin and David to Gauguin.

Joie de vivre and a focus on the opportunities of the present moment fluctuate among other counterpoints to a busy quotidian through Bang’s paintings. These elements remind the spectator of important core values: love, fertility, beauty, and the body’s hormonal wave functions; epicurean bearings without which our well-being would be a thing of the past. The theme of individuative growth is emphasized by dynamic incarnations of Venus and Diana whose radiant Eros and strategic intelligence saturate Bang’s compositions. These goddesses are often accompanied by bouquets and cats, which like them are depicted as sovereign beings with independent perspectives.

Like Balthus, Bang is fascinated by introversion and cats, and both associate the independence of the latter with the female mystique. With the blended territory of East and West comes the inescapable heritage of Walasse Ting, but the form and substance of Bang’s rich thematic variation are more related to the hybrid universe which Balthus explored after 1967, when he married the Japanese Setsuko Ideta. Bang’s symbolism is moreover developed via flowers in full bloom arranged in vases often decorated in patterns reminiscent of the Greek meander pattern. Bang thus mixes the earliest strata in European art with a postmodern Asian perspective; a bricolage technique whose alchemical impetus unifies past and present in a multicultural moment. The vases vibrate like pregnant uterine symbols that emphasize the women’s status as fertility goddesses of a compelling magnetism, which in the twinkling of an eye will become sources of new life.

Above and beyond the fertility theme, Bang depicts women as spiritual beings and inspirational vessels. Like hybrids between Matisse’s odalisques and Chagall’s airborne portraits of his beloved Bella, Bang’s dreaming women soar over Hanoi’s rooftops. The location is reminiscent of Chagall’s depictions of Vitebsk, his native Russian village, and van Gogh’s paintings of poor farmers’ houses in Holland and the south of France. Bang’s street themes from Hanoi with women surfing the airs add a potent blend of poetic fervor and social realism to the warp and woof of his oeuvre.

Bang’s enticing graphics also encompass other types of feminine incarnations, for instance nocturnal beauties traversing the city in blue moonlit nights, naked or swaddled in flowing robes or Susi Wong dresses with a slit to the hip. Radiant with inner glow, the women in these sparkling canvases encourage us to explore the multiorgasmic energies of the soul as well as the skin’s bioelectric voltages: momentary unification of our selves through ecstatic experience.

You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second