Street Life 2



This Artwork is titled “Street Life 2” and was created by Quan Pham Tung, working out of Hanoi, Vietnam. I initially found the image on his website, but at the moment it’s offline. If interested though you can find more of his portfolio on ArtStation. The artwork here depicts a scene on a busy street playing out in front of an elaborately decorated building. The major themes are how an organized kaleidoscope of colors and symbols create feeling or being.



Beginning at the sky and descending The background of this image features large clouds drifting through a bright sky. Beneath are a series of silhouetted building that rises from a brick white concrete terrace, which itself stands slightly above a main street built from yellow cobblestones. 



The primary figure in this image is the elaborately decorated building, that features a wide variety of shapes and symbols. The largest of these shapes is the chicken head that sits at the top of the building. Directly beneath are a series of awnings layered one beneath another until they reach the front door of the building. Descending down the other face of the building there are other recognizable symbols including a heart shape, a hamburger sign, and a bear face. At the bottom of this side of the building is a single large awning that sits above two wide windows. Even still there are more designs that color the building including a symbol that kind of looks like a Pokeball (a mysterious symbol that pops up in a lot of Quan's work) that takes two forms. One is the drawn symbol, and the other sits as a material object above the front door. There’s a wave pattern that appears a few times (one is drawn, the other material), the numbers 7 and 2, lots of cylindrical shapes, even a sort of mezzanine. All of this in the one building. 

On the street below are a variety of characters engaging in different activities. The most odd is the bear-suited man (or maybe it actually is a bear) standing in the open doorway of the elaborate building. Standing to the left of him, there are people dressed in long white tunic like clothes, and standing outside the window there are two children looking in. Beside them is a little white dog. And on the street, there's a person pushing a carriage. And probably the characters that are the easiest for us to relate to are the two guys to the right side of the picture looking curiously at the building like “What is this”



In terms of color, the image can be divided between the large swaths of white and the punctuated uses of primary colors like yellow (or yellow-orange) blue and red. The huge white clouds are drifting past a blue sky. The Chicken head atop the building is white, accented by the red comb on top of its head. Most of the Tunics the people are wearing are mostly white if not all white. Some have little designs near the bottoms hems. And other people have the white of their tunics accented in other ways, for instance, the lady on the street is pushing a red stroller. The building as a whole obscures the large swathes of white at as many points as possible, in that the colored accents dominate its design. Almost like there is so much vibrant graffiti covering it surface, the white layer beneath has been all but completely obscured. One interesting deviation of the color theme in the picture is the little girl looking through the window. Whereas every other character is wearing a hard white, she’s wearing a patterned grey shirt. 

Meaning and Being: A Dimension just Left of Here

 This is my favorite kind of style. Because there is so much going,  it kind of transcends a specific meaning and pulls you into the realm of feeling. Particular how this place feels at this specific time. And for me, it feels vibrant and busy. Rich in culture and hospitality and at the same time strange, like an alternate reality. The Bearman in the doorway is a key figure. He (or maybe it) seems welcoming and wholly consistent with the strangeness of the world around him. But it also seems like if the reality we live in was just an eyelash different, a half step into the dimension left of us we could be walking through a world like this. Into elaborate storefronts where bear men hawk wacky chicken headed trinkets.

Most of the scene going on is analogous to the world we live in, children are looking through window panes, and adults are walking about, a mother is pushing a carriage and it’s all happening on a city street. All these things we recognize, it’s just the way Quan has manifested them in this picture and the coherence with which he did it makes it feel possible.