“Anh Duong’s self-portraits are psychologically intense and personally revealing, intimate yet never narcissistic”
The compositional centre of many is Duong’s eyes which unnervingly meet the gaze of the viewer with a dead-pan expression, blank and yet perplexing. This intense stare is seemingly directed at the viewer – engaging them in what appears to be a somewhat voyeuristic game. However, we are also reminded of the fact that the self-portrait is by definition executed with the help of a mirror, implicit in the paintings featuring the typical glass shelf usually found under bathroom mirrors and on which rest an assortment of cosmetics.
The artist is focused squarely on herself, challenging her self-image, absorbed in self-reflection, both literal and metaphorical, leaving the viewer simply to witness her enigmatic internal dialogue. Indeed, Duong describes her self-portraits as biographical and intensely personal: ‘they’re a record, a narrative of a particular moment in my life, but the details of that narrative always remain hidden from the people who look at it’. That mystery, that enigma, is what makes them particularly alluring – the eyes pose a myriad of questions to which we can only guess the answer.