Hoi Lebadang - Forms in orange

Hoi Lebadang - Forms in orange

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This is a gorgeous etching, measuring about 26 x 20" (65 x 50cm.)

Signed and numbered 235/250. Done 1976. Lebadang (Hoi) was born in Quang Tri, Vietnam in 1922.  He moved to France in 1939 to pursue an art career at Ecole de Beaus Arts de Toulouse.  While studying there he was awarded prizes for painting, drawing, and sculpture and won his first commission.

By 1950 the Paris art community had recognized Lebadang's work, appreciating the blend of European and Far Eastern culture and philosophies reflected in it. The director of the Far Eastern Department at UNESCO commissioned him to illustrate a book of poetry, published by Editions Euros.

Lebadang was first represented in the United States, in 1966, with an exhibition of his paintings at the Cincinnati Art Museum. In describing his art today critics remark that it incorporates everyday subjects into dream-like expressions of thought. Lebadang, an accomplished printmaker, favors the techniques of etching, lithograph, and serigraph.  He also has done lithographs using the name Hoi.

Lebadang's work is exhibited in Dusseldorf, Paris, Nantes, Cologne, Cannes and Aix en Provence galleries. His work is owned in permanent private and public collections including: Rockefeller Collection, New York; Loo Collection in Tokyo; Verkerke Collection, Holland; Phoenix Art Museum, USA; Cincinnati Museum, USA; Columbia Art Institute, USA; Lund University Museum, Sweden; Foundation Museum, Kenya; and the Museum of Arts and Letters, France.


In his 1981 “La Comédie Humaine,” he wrote: “In my work, I use the circle, the magic symbol of life, to enclose reliefs and landscapes. It symbolizes that nature is inseparable from man. Man finds sustenance and spiritual nourishment in every source.”

The artist’s cast paper reliefs from the 1980s demonstrated this power of the circular shape. The handmade paper he designed was used as a pseudo-frame, ornately surrounding the paint and symbolically playing nature. And while the human form was not represented figuratively in his work until the late 1970s, he confirmed that man was always present.

“Until now… it was a familiar shape, a simple component in the universe but deprived of its human essence. […] Thus, it is that my new work has evolved,” he wrote.

By examining paintings like his untitled works of the 1960s – abstract, brightly colored, and almost ethereal – one gets the sense that Lebadang’s memories were pushing through to the surface. His oil paintings of the ’60s are ambiguous at first glance, yet the faint outlines of boats, bridges, and horses gently float to the top. After his shift in style, bringing definition to his paintings, these dreams were made more lucid. Many of his figures become emotive and highly dramatic, this time with visible faces. By the time he approached the 1990s, he demonstrated a new pictorial theme that was topographical and textured. Mixing media, he painted aerial scenes of mountains and oceans where the viewer was stationed in the heavens. These paintings elaborated on man’s relationship to the natural world, continuously presented as a flurry of memories.

Memories—objects that haunt the entire oeuvre of the artist—are a familiar subject to Lebadang. From growing up in Vietnam in the early 1920s to enlisting in the French Army for World War II (even before he had learned French) and taken prisoner by the Japanese, his experiences triggered responses to his past, present, and future.

“Art, in all its forms, whether literature, philosophy, or the visual arts, expresses an attempt to understand the riddle of life and helps lessen the fear of death,” he wrote.

From some of his paintings, it’s easy to tell that Lebadang was inspired by a legacy of French painting, though his work was more mysterious, cavernous, and delicate. But the French wasn’t his only inspiration. Vietnam’s millennium under Chinese rule soaks through his art: the mountains, the fog, and especially his square red signature provide parallels to early Chinese painting. Lebadang’s “signature” acted as his own logo and closely mirrored the calligrapher’s square red seal of a Song Dynasty hand scroll. Their size, shape, and color are virtually identical.

After dozens of successful exhibitions, Lebadang sent money back to Vietnam to rebuild his devastated village, from the schools to the hospitals, until his village became the best in the country. He was honored by the Vietnamese government with a sponsored Lebadang foundation and museum, the first arts foundation in Vietnam. Splitting his time between Vietnam and Paris, the artist claimed that one day he would retire. But nevertheless, his creativity continued to flourish.

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