“Treasures” is an art exhibition at ME Hotel Dubai by UAE-based artist Lan Stanley, celebrating feminine beauty and featuring additional works from Pablo Picasso. The Kurator catches up with Stanley to find out more…
What can you tell us about your latest exhibition "Treasures" in Dubai?
I met the Art Kōrero team in Dubai, and after reviewing my artwork and visiting my studio a few times they came up with the idea of exhibiting my paintings in collaboration with Pablo Picasso's family and their collection. Together we launched the art exhibition we call "Treasures and the World of Pablo Picasso.”
What connects you and your work to Picasso?
This exhibition includes art that I created during the 1990s until around 2000, and the Art Kōrero team saw a connection between my work and Picasso’s. It turns out to be a beautiful exhibition as seen at ME Hotel Dubai from July to September 2022. In both my work and Picasso's, you can see a strong love of life and of women and beauty… It’s about bringing the beauty of life to art.
How does your creative life fit in with Dubai?
I came to Dubai 14 years ago, and I had never heard of Dubai before. So the first year was all about adapting to a new home. Then slowly I held a few art exhibitions here, and through the years, I have learned to like it and call it home now. The UAE and Dubai in recent years have grown with many art galleries, encouraging local people and international visitors to experience them. But perhaps there is also an opportunity to introduce people to art and not just display it for sale.
How did you discover your creativity, and how did you nurture it into artistry?
I discovered that I had some talent when I was about 12, when I babysat my younger brother while he took an art class. The art teacher happened to see some of my drawings as I was outside the room, waiting to take my brother home, and he insisted to my parents that I should take art classes too, which I did. Then, after graduating from the Fine Arts University of Hanoi, Vietnam, I worked as an artist and as an art magazine editor. I had my first solo exhibition in Vietnam before relocating to the USA. Since then, I’ve had many art shows in the USA, UK, Hong Kong, Monaco and Dubai.
What do you like about the lifestyle in Dubai, and what do you most miss about your home country VietNam?
Dubai is a busy place where something is always happening. But I have learned how to balance between all the activities, events, my private life and my art. My "art world" is my own space where I can keep learning how to stay in balance with the beautiful side of life and not let the rest of life take it away from me. What I miss the most from home is the authentic Vietnamese cuisine. There is only one original.
How do you view the art scene in the UAE? Where do you see it going in the future?
Many art galleries have come and gone since I came to Dubai 14 years ago, but there are more galleries now than I can remember. Perhaps, there should be more places to help educate people about what art is and why art can be a big part of our culture. Showing off your art collection is something you should be proud of. Buying art should be natural as you understand, appreciate, and acknowledge it. You don't have to always spend a fortune to be an art collector. You can start by buying an artwork as something you love. I would hope that the UAE market will continue blooming, not just for Middle Eastern art but for international art.
What does the concept of home mean to you? Why do you prefer painting in a solitary environment?
Home is where the heart is and to me home is also a space where you breathe art. It’s where you display the collection you love, and the journeys you’ve made in your life that can transform into artwork or be transformed by an artwork. An artist is a creator, and a creator needs space and quiet. Most of the time during the day I prefer silence (except when something unusual disturbs the schedule), and I like quiet music (just music, no words). Wherever I can think, paint, write, or think of a drawing or stare at something that means to be an artwork, is home to me.
You've lived in London, New York, Hong Kong… What fascinates you most about different cultures and ways of life?
I have relocated so many times, between cities and within them, that just when I feel about to settle down I have to leave again. It's not easy: your life gets turned upside down all over again. But during that process, I’ve also learned so much about many different cultures, lifestyles, habitats, histories, music, museums… And at the same time, you learn so much about yourself.
What are you most proud of, and what do you most look forward to?
I never think of proud moments, I just keep looking toward in life. The moments that always make me feel happy are when my art is exhibited somewhere in the public or in a private collector’s home. “Tomorrow will always be better than today” is my motto, so one of my dreams is to have an art show at an art museum, perhaps in the UAE.
Do you have any words of advice for budding artists in the region?
Being an artist is never easy, it’s hard. Life doesn't accept excuses for it. But what you need is a passion for anything you want to do, and you must do it with love. There is no substitute for that.