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Poetic Visions:  The Art of Lebadang

On Exhibit in the Trelfa Gallery Now

Among the highlights of the Besser Museum’s fine art collection are eighteen luminous works by the Vietnamese-born French artist, Lebadang (1922-2015).  Lebadang was a painter, sculptor, and printmaker who produced an enormous body of work over his long career. Best known for his inventive use of materials and techniques in the field of printmaking, Lebadang explored many themes, subjects, and styles. The limited-edition prints on view in Poetic Visions were part of a generous 1997 gift from Mr. Albert Scaglione, founder and CEO of the Park West Gallery in Southfield, Michigan. Framing of these prints was funded by the Candace Smith Fund and Besser Museum's Non-Juried Art Exhibit, Best Foot. Shown here as a group for the first time, the Besser Museum is pleased to share the work of this internationally known artist with the community and visitors to Northeast Michigan 

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The Artist


Born in 1922, Lê Bá Đảng (he adopted the use of Lebadang, a contraction of his legal name, in 1950) was raised and educated in a small village in central Vietnam. Desperate to emigrate to France, in 1939 the young Lebadang falsified his birthdate to enlist in the corps of Indochinese laborers who worked in French arms and munitions factories during World War II.  He endured many challenges during the war, including 14 months in a German prison camp, but eventually was able to enroll in classes at the School of Fine Arts in Toulouse, France. His talent for  design and sculpting the human figure was recognized and, by 1950, he was living and working as an artist in Paris.


Within the Vietnamese community in Paris, he met Myshu. The couple      married in 1950 and the following year, Myshu gave birth to a son,   Fabrice, nicknamed Touty.


Lebadang’s early exhibitions of paintings and drawings in Paris and in the French provinces were well received. Over the next thirty years,  Lebadang achieved artistic success and became well known in France and Germany. American audiences were introduced to his work in 1966, when the Cincinnati Art Museum hosted a solo exhibition of his work. Since then, his work has been shown in galleries throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan, and India, and his prints and paintings are held in numerous public and private collections. In 1994, he was appointed Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature) by the French Minister of Culture in Paris.


Although the artist died in 2015, he remained a vital, practicing artist throughout his later years. Three years before his death, his wife Myshu spoke about her husband’s need to continue making art: “Life is a sinking ship and work is a lifeboat.”

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