DRAW OF THE WILD

An Artist Pro­motes Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Through His Paint­ings

Oi Vietnam - - Front Page - TEXT BY LOR­CAN LOVETT POR­TRAIT BY NGOC TRAN ART­WORK BY DAO VAN HOANG

WILDLIFE ARTIST DAO VAN HOAN G is sit­ting next to his easel in his 10th floor apart­ment over­look­ing the Saigon River. De­spite his im­pres­sive oeu­vre, the 52-year-old con­ser­va­tion­ist is quick to down­play his artis­tic cre­dence.

“I don’t con­sider my­self as an artist,” he says. “I don’t have an art back­ground or see things the way an artist sees them, I guess. I don’t know a lot of artists. I don’t ex­change ideas with them. I don’t go to an artists’ club. I feel un­com­fort­able.”

His easel holds an un­fin­ished paint­ing of a rhinoceros, its skin em­a­nat­ing the tex­ture of cracked earth, thick and scorched by the sun. He’s mulling over the idea of in­tro­duc­ing a lit­tle bird to en­hance the scene’s com­po­si­tion.

Soft af­ter­noon light pours over his book­shelves stacked with ti­tles such as Pri­mates of Viet­nam and Fishes

of the Mekong and colors the cu­ri­ous sou­venirs of a well-sea­soned trav­eler; a wooden gecko, a hand-painted boomerang, an­tique cam­eras sal­vaged from Parisian bou­tiques.

But most in­trigu­ing are the can­vasses, which cap­ture the hid­den idio­syn­cra­sies of an­i­mals in a way more mem­o­rable and per­ma­nent than pho­tog­ra­phy. One por­trays the gen­tle cu­rios­ity of a tiger, an­other the flu­id­ity of pa­cific reef herons fly­ing over the sea of Muine.

Greater bam­boo lemur, Mada­gas­car

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