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Duy Anh Nhan Duc : Fragile beauty

After Lee Bae’s charcoal “contemporary cave” in 2015, Shouchiku Tanabe’s monumental bamboo tree in 2016, Min Jung-Yeon’s bewitching birch forest in 2019, and Daniel Arsham’s Zen garden last year, it is a celestial landscape of dandelion egrets, all poetry and lightness, that Duy Anh Nhan Duc has unfolded under the dome of the Guimet Museum. An immersive landscape through which to drift like an initiatory journey.

“My work draws its essence from the poetry of the plant world. Each of my creations emanates from the pleasure I get from spending time in nature: in the forest, in meadows, in a wasteland, or even in the city, in the middle of a roundabout. Wonder is offered to all those who seek it. I like to let myself be guided by the game of the encounter. It can be in front of the graceful arrangement of the petals of a flower, in front of the power of a seed, or at the sight of the architecture of a root system. The fruit of tireless gathering, the creations that I imagine highlight plants that we all know but no longer look at. Clover, salsify, lichen, wheat, maple – not forgetting the dandelion – form my palette. I discover, I observe, I glean, and, little by little, my project takes shape.”

The fruit of tireless picking and long and meticulous sessions of sorting, drying, collage, assembly… the plant installations of the Franco-Vietnamese artist (born in 1983 in Ho Chi Minh City and arriving in France at the age of ten) are the result of a slow observation of nature and its humblest plants blooming freely on roundabouts, wastelands or the edges of the ring road… Salsify, thistles, dandelions, wild carrots, poppies… lovingly picked, dried and then scattered or sealed in flowerbeds and paintings or volatile sculptures.

From the Metaphysical Wall, made of a double mesh of fine metal chains holding in their reefs’ dandelion egrets, drawing the circle of rebirth to the Roots of Heaven, sprouted in a calabash recycled as a sacred or cosmic vase, through The Hall of Wishes,it is a real initiatory journey that Duy Anh Nhan Duc invites us to go through in an ultra-condensed time-space that can be expanded according to our reveries and meditations.

Faced with the wall of denial, he invites us to become aware of the urgency of “rethinking our way of living in a world that is collapsing and devitalizing”: A false wall woven with a multitude of tiny links, evoking, like a “veil of alienation,” our imprisonment in blindness. We see it, through a subtle optical game, transforming into a window… A wall of illusions enshrining in its metal mesh dandelion egrets, drawing in a perfect circle the promise of a renewal: promises of life replacing the chains, these seeds offer a beautiful escape towards a more eco-responsible future…

Consisting of an astonishing assembly of discarded windows,Le Parloir des souhaits also invites us, through wonder, introspection, and action, to resurrect the innocence of the child who, by blowing on the dandelion flowers and making a wish, opened up “to hope and enchantment.” By turning the crank of this makeshift greenhouse – half shack, half merry-go-round – swarms of dandelion egrets flutter under the action of a propeller, evoking the poetic and fruitful dance of the samaras: these helical fruits of the maple tree that have fascinated and amused generations of children, in the days when nature was still a playground… Associating seeds with creative forces, as well as the millions of wishes and promises to be brewed in his Parlour, Duy Anh Nhan Duc wanted to give a horizon back to windows that no longer had any and conceived his hut as an ode to rebirth and fertility, a veritable factory of dreams destined to revive the magical thoughts of childhood and, with them, of responsible commitments.

A visual artist of plants, a poet of the ephemeral, but also a committed artist, he shows us beyond beauty, fragility, and opens the field of possibilities…

« Carte blanche à Duy Anh Nhan Duc »
Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet
6, place d’Iéna, 75116 Paris
Jusqu’au 7 février 2022

By Stéphanie Dulout