Lêanhduy, or as I know him Gii (nickname given by a fellow artist who couldn’t pronounce his name), uses pens, stencils, and watercolors to make his impressionist creations. He thinks of Paris as his studio, and wherever he sits, he finds inspiration to add to the spirit of Vietnam in his mind. The light of Gii resonates wherever he goes despite the prominent presence of war in his background.
I met Gii at a little café in the 5th. He was having a drink with friends, and he was hugging his art materials closely, like a woman clutching her pearls when she suspects a thief in the area. He greeted me with a warm smile and a solid ‘Bonjour’. He told me how a gallery owner had noticed his drawings and wanted to know more. Gii explained that his expressionist drawings were a reflection of his past and the light he sees looking forward. Up until then, he had only shown his work in a collective and had never had his own show. The gallerist offered to do his show, and Gii accepted.
The show, ‘Un Vietnamien à Paris’ was a success: a reflection of the people severely burned from the Napalm attack. Gii drew the positivity of overcoming and celebrating those who survived, with a reminder of the little girl running naked down the street, in one of the most iconic photos of our time. Influenced by impressionist Van Gogh, he also added a taste of Picasso and highlighted the form with watercolors to create this collection that sold four pieces on the opening night. Unlike most artists, Gii has a good sense of the business side of art. He actively promoted his show on social media, spoke to people on the streets to drive traffic to see his art and, with the help of the gallery, sold four additional pieces with orders to other commission pieces. Look out for more of Lêanhduy Maniquant in the future!
Visit his website here