Society Dreams: Anh Duong

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After the rain on Fifth Avenue. 7:45 PM. Photo: JH.

Friday, June 7, 2024. Yesterday was another beautiful day in New York warm (in the low 80s) but with only a touch of humidity to lift the numbers, the kind of day you’d love to have for the whole summer coming up. With more of the same predicted for today unless the original forecast was for a 100% chance of rain. 

Today we return to our dream analyst, Lauren Lawrence who today is featuring a dream told to her by Anh Duong, an artist and model whom she’d met at several parties over the years.

Lauren Lawrence with Anh Duong.
Lauren Lawrence with Anh in 2021 at a reception at Galerie Gmurzynska where one of Anh’s paintings was on display.

Born in Bordeux, France to a Spanish mother and a father who is Vietnamese, she studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Although having long aspired to be a ballerina, she decided to pursue it professionally. While studying with the Franchetti Academy of Academy of Classical, however, she also embarked on a modeling career and was photographed for Vogue. 

She’d met Christian Lacroix who was launching his couture house in Paris, and quickly became one of his muses leading to a very successful modeling career. Her career blossomed working for Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Sybilla. She worked also in many shows for Yohji Yamamoto, Moschino, Isaac Mizrahi, Christian Dior, Donna Karen, Karl Largerfeld, Geoffrey Beene and many others. 

In 1989 she spent a summer on the Warhol Estate in East Hampton and decided to focus mainly on her Art. In 1991 she had her first solo exhibition at Sperone Westwater Gallery (12 large portraits). A year later, she made her film debut in The Mambo Kings (and has appeared in over a dozen films since).

Today, our beautiful model/ballerina has become a recognized painter in New York, creating her own personal genre: layers of seeing herself for the first time in moments of profound psychological vulnerability, stripped of her familiar everyday image, “a palace where I can both hide, and I can show the most.”

Her current show at Galerie Gmurzynska, Anh Duong: The Incoherences of a Gentlewoman runs through June 22, 2024.

A self portrait from Anh’s current exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska.

by Lauren Lawrence

The Dream: I dreamt I was in a castle, getting ready for the evening: Parties were scheduled. I wondered which medieval dress, with lots of fabric and embroidery, I should wear. But where to change? What bathroom to shower in? All the bathrooms were busy. Undressing in the living room, I discovered I had many layers of clothing, dark, thick fabric, especially many tight, suffocating stockings on my legs. I took them off. My skin was beautiful under this dark, heavy clothing. Naked, I washed my bright, smooth skin with soap. I joined people sitting around having dinner. Finally a woman arrived and showed me a small shower that splashed outside. I worried there was no dry, clean towel. I put on the best dress, but I was late, everybody was already gone. Then I was in a train, passing landscapes of the countryside.

A painting from Anh's current exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska.The Interpretation: That the dreamer is comfortable in her own skin is a corporal understatement — there is much luxuriating in the body, which is stroked, cleansed, and indulged to the point of supplication. 

Obviously, the dreamer has skin in the game, wholly involved in presentation. Being situated in a castle reiterates the grand sense of self — a self bent on satisfying primal needs, archaic narcissism, if you will. Clothing is viewed as a societal encumbrance, a suffocating entrapment, an impediment the dreamer does not hesitate to remove. Status is articulated through nakedness,  through the body beneath the beautiful dress. 

As an artist nothing is more important than the form — the body of the image. There is a sensual component of the dream: The body submits to tactile ministrations, a caressing bar of soap. The washing of skin is baptismal — it symbolizes the sacredness of the body. There is joy in nakedness, and discovering oneself beneath the many layers of fabrication. 

Yet, what would seem self-love or wanton exhibitionism is wholly otherwise, for the body is objectified, viewed as a work of art that merits unveiling and presentation. When the dreamer is finally dressed for the party, it is no wonder everyone has already gone. Because the dreamer is the party, the environment, the countryside, the train of thought as it moves from the physical to the emotional landscape. One understands the party was unimportant; the uncovering was what was attended to.

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