As Hanoi approached its 1,000th anniversary, painter Nguyen Cam travelled from Paris to celebrate this momentous historic celebration of passing time with an exhibition at Art Vietnam Gallery.
All of the pieces Cam has included in the Traces of Memory exhibition are mixed media on canvas created using dark colours.
Calligraphic musings and bits of jute, votive papers, ginkgo leaves, tea bags, and other distinctly Vietnamese elements are scattered over fractured landscapes to give the impression of a visual diary.
All of the materials he used to create his paintings are symbolic, he says. Ginkgo was the first tree to grow in Hiroshima after the bomb. The plant inspires Cam as a symbol of power, vitality and eternity, while tea bags express the changes of time.
"Everyday I drink tea, in a silent and thoughtful space. I realised that the colours and textures of the tea are never the same. I see it as similar to our daily lives: each day is different," he says.
The artist left the country for France when he was very young and he returns with the solemn, wizened perspective of a man whose life has been pushed and pulled, torn and mended.
"As Cam approaches the autumn of his life, having escaped a near brush with death, a heightened intensity and awareness of the preciousness of each and every moment is ever present," says Suzanne Lecht, director of Art Vietnam Gallery, the painter's close friend.
Ever mindful of the beauty of movement, the artist methodically pursues his future, honours his past, reveres the present, and exposes injuries accumulated along the way, she says.
"I feel an intensified freedom when I return to Vietnam , the country of my childhood and birth," Cam says. "Certainly returning home, that physical place which creates the landscape and language of our spiritual home, is life giving. It inspires me to delve into the deep recesses of the mind and heart where a solace that helps to face life's vagaries might be found."
The exhibition will run until November 5 at Art Vietnam Galley, 7 Nguyen Khac Nhu Street , Hanoi.