A DECADE WITH DÓ PAPER
By Gregory Jewett (2012)
Lê Hiền Minh is a female artist who was born after 1975 in Hanoi and grew up in Ho Chi Minh City. She studied traditional lacquer painting at the Ho Chi Minh city Fine Art University, then transferred to and graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, USA, majoring in Fine Art. Today, Le Hien Minh lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City .
Lê Hiền Minh utilizes a traditional Vietnamese handmade paper called Dó paper as her central medium. Using this material she creates large scale site specific installations. Dó paper is a natural paper created from the bark of the Dó tree (Rhamnoneuron balansae). In Vietnam, Dó paper was used for writing and printing upon in the northern village of Yen Thai, in the early 20th century. It was later used for traditional Vietnamese folk paintings, particularly in the creation of Dong Ho paintings, a type of woodcut print, which originates in Dong Ho Village in Bac Ninh Province of Northern Vietnam.
Although the Dó paper is the central medium in Minh’s work, her overall body of work appears to have been created using a diversity of materials. For example, the material of Birds (2009) appears to be stone and Home (2004) appears to be rusty metal. This diversity of appearance is a natural outcome of Minh’s art making process, which engages elements of nature such as rain, humidity, sun, etc., to generate unpredictable outcomes.
Lê Hiền Minh, through her use of Dó Paper, offers a new perspective on a traditional Vietnamese material. In Lê Hiền Minh’s work, Dó paper acts as a bridge between contemporary and traditional Vietnamese art as well as between modern and historical Vietnamese culture.