Vietnamese lady & dog 越南老太与她的狗

Scotland_edited_edited.jpg

2012

20cms (W) x 24cms (H)

Oil on Panel

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Vietnam is a beguiling country. In a similar way to several other south east Asian countries, it has the capacity to totally intoxicate you with the beauty of its people, landscape and culture; and then shock you by showing you the scars of recent trauma. I wasn't alive during the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia or the Vietnam war, so outside of what i'd seen in films, had no comprehension of what the impact was. When I first visited Vietnam, it was a relatively sheltered experience and I went on a tour to visit a family. Everyone i'd met up until that point on the trip had provided a perfect view for a tourist of a vibrant, accommodating and positive nation. The family were very friendly, showed us their home and I bought some handmade placemats from them. We took many photos from the area, smiling with the family, photos of their home etc. On the way back to the bus, it was obvious that some people had gotten wind that there was to be a tourist trip so people came to beg from the spend-happy foreigners. I've typically been careful about giving money away to people because of the disruptive effect, but you could see from the people begging that they were all of a similar age, all suffering similar disfigurements and diabilities, that our driver explained were caused as a result of their parents being affected by agent orange and other chemical weapons.


It's the first time i've really seen first hand the long term consequences of a war. Sure, i've seen the violence in movies, but it made me think about the struggles these people and their families would have on a daily basis, which is a horrific reality based on something they had literally zero involvement with.


So when I was trying to paint something to capture my Vietnam experience, I took another look at the pictures we'd taken of this family and I looked at the face of the old lady who had lived through that and seen the horrors during the war and experienced the long tail of their consequences; who had allowed some foreigners to come into their home and photograph them, and posed so graciously for photographs; and I couldn't even begin to unpack the emotions from her expression - which I hadn't acknowledged at the time and wouldn't have had we not seen the desperation of those trying to get money from the bus after the visit.

 

This is my favourite painting of mine by some distance. I painted it in 2012. I have given away or destroyed every painting of mine before 2012 and all between 2012 and 2016. I will never sell it, and it's always in a prominent place on my walls. In my opinion, I haven't ever before or after been able to capture emotion like in this picture. Interestingly, I've never understood why others have preferred some of my other pictures, but writing this description has made me realise what I see in it that others don't and hopefully this will help explain why I like it so much.

越南是一个迷人的国家,和一些其他东南亚国家/地区类似,它的风景和文化很吸引人;同时最近的战争创伤又震撼人心。柬埔寨红色高棉时代和越南战争时期,我还没出生,所以除了在电影中了解到的以外,我对它们造成的影响了解甚少。第一次去越南时,被照顾得很好,拜访了一户人家。到那时为止,我在旅途中遇到的每一个人都给一个来自充满活力、包容和积极国家的游客提供了一个完美的视角。他们非常友好,带我们参观了他们的家;我从他们那里买了一些手工餐垫。我们在那里拍了很多照片,和当地家人微笑,和他们一起拍照。在回公车的路上,很明显有人听说有游客,于是人们就来向那些喜欢花钱的外国人乞讨。因为这个乐于花钱的颠覆性影响,我通常在捐钱方面会很小心,但你可以发现乞讨的人都年龄相似,都遭受着相似的毁容和身体残疾。我们的司机解释说,这都是战争时期留下的创伤——父母受到橙剂和其他化学武器的危害。

这是我第一次真正亲眼目睹战争的长期后果。当然,我已经从电影里看到过战争有多暴力,但亲眼所见让我想到这些人和他们的家人每天都会深受其害,还是他们完全没有参与的事件中,这是一个多么可怕的现实。

所以,当我准备画一些东西来捕捉我的越南之行时,我又看了一眼我们为这个家庭拍的照片,看了看老太太的脸,她经历过越战,目睹了战争期间的恐怖,经历了战后的悠久创伤;她允许一些外国人进入他们的家给他们拍照,还摆出优雅的姿势拍照;我甚至无法从她的表情中解读出她经历那么多以后的情绪和感触——我当时还没有认识到这一点,而且如果我们在去完那户人家以后没有看到那些乞讨人的无助,可能至今也无法解读。

这是我最喜欢的一幅画。2012年完成的。2012年之前以及2012年至2016年之间的所有绘画都被我送人或者毁掉了。但这幅画,我永远都不会卖它,而且它始终被放在墙上显眼的位置。在我看来,这幅画之前及以后,我从未能够像这张照片那样将画中人物的情感捕捉得如此准确。有趣的是,我不理解为什么其他人更喜欢我的其他画,但是写了这篇说明;让我意识到我从这幅画中看到的一些其他人可能未曾解读的东西,希望这篇说明能够帮助解释为什么我如此喜欢它。