September 20 - October 30, 2001
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release

Two years after the tremendous success of her first personal exhibition at the gallery and while the Editions Assouline, New York, dedicated an important monograph to her work (a rare tribute for a young artist), Anh Duong unveiled her brand new self-portraits in her second exhibition at the gallery.

Her recent works - about twenty oils on canvas and about fifteen works on paper, all created during 2001 - mark a new step in her perpetual search around portrayal and painting. Different from her previous works, very expressionist and over-saturated with colors, this series is characterized by the transparence, the subject recedes almost up to a partial erasure "For me", she explains, "it´s only once the subject disappears that the painting comes to life. I always try to take away as much as possible. Because the more I erase something, the more present it becomes."

In quest for more purity, Anh Duong unveils herself within a delicate game of semi-transparence: painting on barely prepared cotton canvases, she sublimates the roughness of the support by a subtle juxtaposition of coating and oil, applied on the subject like a veil in a linear and fluid gesture. These works seem to be composed of two thin layers, one of wash colors, the other consists of a network of marks and undulating lines from where the portrait emerges. Thus the subject and the background fuse together, abolishing the conventional notions of perspective.

Always amazing, oddly fragile and intimate, Anh Duong´s self-portraits are as many different incisive visions of the same person, alternately revealing her face and her body naked, or simply dressed with sexy lingerie, out of the easy devices of seduction and without any narcissist complacency.

Artist facing her own representation, Anh Duong refuses to depict herself in accordance with any ideal of beauty, in which she was confined as a high-profiled haute-couture model. She now exhibits herself with features whose rawness and distortion often go far beyond reality. Ruthless to herself, she chooses to depict her body, often aged, gaunt, streaked with cold colored shadows and marks, sometimes in very uncomfortable positions, her weary and wild eyes staring at us defiantly. The nudity of her body has nothing to deal with exhibitionism and never puts the viewer in a voyeur´s position. It is a complete and immodest abandon, laying bare her soul, thus revealing the artist´s inner personality.

If the colors are less violent, the gesture less convulsive, the obsessive feeling of emergency and absolute necessity that gripped us in her previous works is still very pregnant. The smooth melancholy that emanates from the pale shades of her figures is emphasized by the aggressiveness of the sharp colors the artist uses for painting nails, lingerie and accessories, thus exacerbating the ambivalent feelings that inhabit her self-portraits.

The main theme of this exhibition is the marriage and its representation. A lot of works depict Anh Duong naked under the white tulle of a wedding veil; the obvious opposition between the nudity and the veil´s virginity is all the more striking since the mystery of this strange ceremonial remains opaque. Anh Duong´s intelligence and subtlety is to let everyone find its own answer to these questions. The exhibition title, Anh Duong, La Mariée mise à nu par les célibataires (Anh Duong, The bride stripped bare by the bachelors), perfectly echoes her paradoxical approach between unveiling and secret: explicit reference to Marcel Duchamp, it lets the way open to all interpretations.

In the image of her illustrious predecessor, Anh Duong invites us here to a trip through the phenomenon of the amorous desire. It is a delicate and obsessive, entrancing and sensual journey that throws us into the intimacy of the artist, between reality and fantasy.