Artist Van Pham, born in 1977, has spent decades experimenting and refining her style of oil painting. After graduating from the Vietnam University of Fine Arts in 2000, she returned to University as a lecturer. Meanwhile, she has continued to advance her artistic journey within the framework of Buddhist philosophy. In particular, her work speaks to the cosmic interrelationship between the universal and the specific. To Buddhists “The whole world is seen in a speck of sand, and Heaven in a single flower.” Pham Thanh Van’s work, beneath its simplicity and gentleness, is characterized by a poetry that suggest larger themes. Her work reverberates with the rhythms of the four seasons in a way that implies both “religious” and “worldly” themes.
Furthermore, the ostensible “simplicity” of her work, characterized by large negative spaces, is purposeful and philosophically suggestive. Pham elicits powerful yet almost incomplete inner feelings in her viewers through an economy of lines and brush strokes. Her pictures’ empty spaces are intentionally created to convey something meaningful, drawing deeply from traditions in European modern art and Oriental culture. Hers are not merely blank spaces between figures and shapes, but carefully constructed emptiness that shapes form to make us feel as if we are hearing a good poem or a listening to lyrical piece of music.
All this is meant to give the average viewer an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Meanwhile the connoisseur who manages to decipher Pham’s sophisticated artistic code is left with an appreciation for the essence of life in its simplest expression of naturalness.