Lien PHAM - Chân dung, Portraits

Lien PHAM - Chân dung, Portraits : Chân dung 1, 2022, 116 x 89    Lien PHAM - Chân dung, Portraits : Chân dung 5, 2022, 80 x 80    Lien PHAM - Chân dung, Portraits : Chân dung 7, 2023, 80 x 80    Lien PHAM - Chân dung, Portraits : Chân dung 12, 2023, 116 x 178   

The exhibition

Portrait - a seemingly simple and unambiguous title. But what is a portrait or a self-portrait? My friend, the painter Étienne Sandorfi, who was a master of the genre, was convinced that paintings of Coca-Cola or Campbell Soup bottles were Andy Warhol's true self-portraits.
A portrait in painting cannot be a description, a replica or a representation. The pleasure of recognition is too little for what needs to be discovered. It doesn't answer the question that painting asks: "What is this? ... and that's what Lien Pham's ?han dung" are all about. What do they say about his relationship to the world?
The origin of her work is clothing design, fashion where she excels. Having said that we haven't said anything. Her world signifies the importance of geometry, i.e. measurement and the plane, but also the play with angles, diagonals, with cones becoming singular hats like, in the 17th century, circles metamorphosing into "Strawberries" in Nicholas Hilliard's work.
Geometry inhabits his universe. It is an order, an architecture that projects the world in a straight line. She proceeds through formal sets that organize the canvas but are contradicted by a fragmentation, a multitude of dots, archipelagos of broken, lacquered eggshells, casting doubt on the structures that contain them. These hats, composed of macro as well as micro-universes, are the gyrations of a cosmos populated by a swarm of meteors, within which the portrait stands.
It's hard not to notice the colors, the dominance of gray, black and dark green, a rigor that is there to exacerbate the pronounced red of the mouths that mark the bottom of the face like a sensual incision, heterogeneous to this discreet order.
While in some paintings, the faces are masked by the hat or accessory, in more recent ones, they are uncovered, but the flat surfaces that reveal them are covered with colors, moods and liquids that unravel them.
Lien Pham's work is made up of these points and counterpoints, the doubts she casts within her geometries. In her work, the precision of the visible, the austerity of faces, only take on their full meaning when they are questioned, challenged by figures foreign to this order. They open the door to the invisible, signifying, as Fernand Khnopff does, that the real subject of her portraits is not the faces themselves, but their "musica falsa", their hidden nature... Making the invisible appear, the challenge is to give form to the secret, to paint the secret.

Olivier Kaeppelin


01/06/2023 - 13/07/2023
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