Au Dinh Kien's works focus on reflecting the essence of daily life and its rhythms through his own personal perspective. He has his rather unique and interesting perceptions on things: (such as) seeing and feeling are two completely different things. He also thinks we should take everything seriously, even when we seem to be silly, we should also take our silliness seriously and he wants to convey these thoughts into his works.
Huu Nghi: Singapore & Vietnam 50-10 Exhibition
Singapura: The origin of Singapore’s country name is rather elusive and obscure, as there is no concrete evidence to prove that sea lions ever existed on this tropical island nation. This perplexity stems from the name "Merlion" – a half lion and half fish, a distinctive tourist symbol of Singapore that invokes an intriguing image. Historical records from the Malay culture recount that Sang Nila Utama, also known as Sri Tri Buana, the first ruler of the Malay people reigning from 1299 to 1347, decided one day to leave the ancient center of Palembang and travel to the Indonesian island of Bintan, which is now located near Singapore.
From atop a hill on Bintan, he saw another island with smooth white sandy shores stretching around it. He named this island "Temasek," meaning "Sea Town," which is the equivalent of present-day Singapore. Later, he and his entourage ventured to this island, and the first thing they saw was a creature of incredibly peculiar appearance: a body of red, a head of black, and a white chest. The creature was large and swiftly fled upon seeing humans approaching. No one in the group knew what kind of creature it was, except for the aged advisor of the king, who believed it to be an ancient species of lion. Deeply impressed by the creature, King Sri Tri Buana changed the name of the island from Temasek to Singapura, where "singa" means lion and "pura" means city in Malay.
Turtle God: In Eastern culture, the Turtle serves as a support, ensuring the stability of the world, and it's closely linked to the highest deities. Particularly in Vietnamese culture, the turtle bears the symbol of divinity and sanctity, first appearing in legends during the time of Au Luc. The divine turtle appeared twice to aid the king. The first time it emerged to help King An Duong Vuong successfully construct Co Loa Citadel and gifted the king a divine nail to craft a sacred crossbow. The second time, the divine turtle appeared to reveal the traitor of the nation, My Chau, and guide An Duong Vuong back to the sea.
In Singapore, Turtle Island is regarded as a sacred land. According to the recounted legend, there were once two sailors, one Chinese and one Malay, who unfortunately faced a shipwreck in the waters near Singapore Island. During this dire situation, a gigantic sea turtle transformed into an island, thus saving their lives. Subsequently, the sailors erected a temple, carved a statue of the giant sea turtle, and named the island Kusu as an expression of gratitude and remembrance for the benevolent turtle. This artwork combines two spiritual images from two countries: Kusu Island (Singapore) and the Turtle Tower (Hanoi, Vietnam).