Public visitors within Bui Cong Khanh's installation on display for the Singapore Art Museum's 'Signature Art Prize'. (Image courtesy of the artist)
Established Saigon art-star, Bui Cong Khanh was one of the 15 finalists for this year’s ‘Signature Art Prize’, organized by the Singapore Art Museum. 130 works were up for consideration and Khanh’s installation ‘The Past Moved’ gained the jury’s interest. Composed of charcoal on paper as backdrop and a series of 8 color photographs, this work investigates the artist’s local neighborhood and the many residents who are forced to compromise and adapt their living conditions due to urban progress. Khanh was up against a strong list of artists from the Asian region, including Chen Chieh-Jen (Taiwan); Vandy Rattana (Cambodia); Imran Qureshi (Pakistan); Daniel Crooks (Australia) and Sheba Chhachhi (India) to name but a few. The winner, Rodel Tapaya from The Philippines, was announced as the Grand Prize Winner.
More information can be found here: www.singaporeartmuseum.sg/signatureartprize/
Sandrine Llouquet. 'Landscape in the wunderkammer'. Ink, watercolor and pencil on paper. 40 x 30cm. (Image courtesy of the artist)
In September, Sandrine Llouquet held a solo show of recent drawings at ‘Give Art’ in Singapore titled ‘I would prefer not to’. Composed of 35 drawings, this was Llouquet’s first exhibition in this city increasingly labeled as the destination hub for all things South East Asian. In speaking briefly with Llouquet on her recent work and its relation to her overall practice, she was insistent that her work be received free of association to any fixed interpretation. When prodded about this determination to leave meaning so ‘unstated’ it was revealed that Llouquet’s art, attempts to weave a fairytale narrative into works, with titles that often recall famous novels such as ‘Bartleby’ by Herman Melville. This desire to see fairytales interwoven into everyday life was spurred by Llouquet’s relocation to Saigon in 2005, where one of the most striking conundrums was the lack of imagination she felt in the local visual landscape. To this day, she is still pondering the lack of psychological and technical play with the urban environment of Ho Chi Chi Minh City where she lives and works, determined to make her own imagery something that confronts as opposed to familiarly pass by.
Check out Give Art’s website for more information: www.giveart.net
Tiffany Chung, Off-Nibroll and the Arabesque Dance Company (Images courtesy of Tiffany Chung)
On the 15 and 16 September, Tiffany Chung, in conjunction with Japanese outfit ‘Off-Nibroll’ created a multi-media/theatre performance at Le Thanh Theatre in Ho Chi Minh City in collaboration with local dancers of Arabesque Dance Company. This unique event held in one of the city’s only black-box theatres was a fantastic hit with a sell-out audience. Sponsored by the Japan Foundation, this event was the product of a long collaboration between the artists, having met in 2007 during a ‘Flying Circus’ project organized by Theatreworks, Singapore. The first result of this long-term process is an exhibition & performance entitled Fukawaga Shokudo, which was supported by Art Matters New York and Fukagawa Tokyo Modan Kan Gallery in early 2011. Composed of two performances, one each by the artists, the evening unraveled highly personal stories relating to Japan. For Off-Nibroll, central to their ideas was the recent devastating earthquake and their affect on Japanese society while Tiffany Chung’s work continues her examination of human struggle through the study of the journey of personal history. For Tiffany, this was also her first first project to direct and choreograph dance and theatre and it was an experience she would definitely like to do again.
For more information on the artists and this event, see:www.jpf.org.vn/TabId/97/ArticleId/1085/PreTabId/65/Default.aspx
Le Brothers. 'Into the sea' (stills) 2011. Three channel video installation: 59mins, color, sound. (Images courtesy of the artist)
Zerostation, a local artist-initiated experimental art space, showcased the first 3 channel video installation by brother out-fit, The Le Brothers, from Hue between 24-30 September. Titled ‘Into the Sea’, Nguyen Nhu Huy (Director of Zerostation), writes ‘Into the sea” is a surrealistic poem about an investigation whose all visual elements are overlapped, confused or absorbed into one another. Through this investigation of two persons having identical appearances, walking along the beaches, wandering on the hills of sand, or floating in the ocean, sometime furry, sometime sad, and sometime disoriented, we seem to be able to see varied conflicted dimensions of a fragmental reality where each individual seems to be only a copy, a simulation of another, in an endless process of repeating each other’. On November 5, Zerostation also showcased a come-back performance by Ngo Thi Thuy Duyen titled ‘Allergy’, a personal reflection on her childhood reaction to weather and food. Check out the website for further information: www.zerostationvn.org
Installation view of 'Ideal Fall' at Galerie Quynh (Images courtesy of Galerie Quynh)
Celebrated Ho Chi Minh City based artist, Hoang Duong Cam opened his solo show ‘Ideal Fall’ at Galerie Quynh, from 6 October – 26 November in Ho Chi Minh City. Focusing on a body of work long in the making, this exhibition saw Cam’s ideas of idealism come together in three dimensions. Saigon born, Berlin based writer and emerging curator, Arlette Quynh Anh Tran has this to say about the show: www.saigonw.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/beyond-the-reasoned-insight/
Nguyen Thai Tuan. 'Evening' from 'Heritage' series, 2011. Oil on canvas. 130 x 150cm. (Image courtesy of San Art)
Dalat based painter Nguyen Thai Tuan presented impressive new works at San Art in Ho Chi Minh City. Opened 10 November and on view til December 15, this exhibition drew a unique crowd to the opening festivities with artist supporters in attendance also from Hue and Hanoi. Nguyen Thai Tuan’s art presents an important refection of Vietnamese contemporary society today and is thus of increasing attention to international public museum and private collector. Due to exhibition restrictions, San Art was not permitted to publish the accompanying text on this exhibition. For further information please contact San Art: email@example.com / and see here for more images: www.san-art.org/exhibitions/FullnessOfAbsence/FullnessOfAbsence-index.html
New to the Ho Chi Minh City art scene (opening July 2011) is Cactus Art Gallery in District 2 who presented an intriguing body of new work by La Huy on the 24 September. The artist’s wax and resin works, carefully hung from the ceiling or podium were ethereal with their use of light. Cactus Art Gallery is a commercial operation curated by Phuong Quoc Tri. See here for more information: www.cactusartgallery.com/news/detail/sentimental-zone-48.html
Nguyen Phuong Linh curated ‘Skylines without Flying People’ for Rory Gill Fine Art in London (25 June – 5 August). Linh shared a few insights with us on her first experience of curating exhibitions outside Vietnam:
PVD: On the website of Rory Gill Fine Art, 'Skylines without Flying People' (SWFP) is promoted as the first show of contemporary experimental Vietnamese art in London. Can you share some of your honest reflections on how this exhibition was received by London audiences? What were the most commonly asked questions?
NPL: SWFP actually was not the first show of contemporary experimental Vietnamese art in London, before Nguyen Minh Thanh, Nguyen Quang Huy, Nguyen Van Cuong and many others have had shows in London, and there is Apricot gallery in the central of London. But Rory Gill Fine Art Gallery is the first one that focuses on promoting contemporary/experimental art in South East Asia in London on a continuous basis, and especially in Vietnam, focusing on young and experimental art. London audiences don’t know much about the Vietnamese contemporary art scene. Some Londoners even think that Vietnam is still at war and there is no art in Vietnam. The most commonly asked questions were about the food, weather, traffic, city life, countryside life...
PVD: As a young artist based in Vietnam, who has curated several exhibitions in Hanoi, what were the major differences you experienced in organizing a curatorial project of Vietnamese art for foreign audiences?
NPL: Up til now, I only work with artists that I know and have admired for a very long time, organizing projects mostly at Nhasan studio in Hanoi. My relationship with the artists is not like ‘curator and artist’, but mostly like very close friends that grew up together and understand each other. This is the first time I organized an exhibition outside of Vietnam, but still working with artists from Hanoi, who are my close friends. The only differences are the spaces and the new audiences and I was only by myself, arranging how to install the work. So I felt I had more responsibilities this time. Rory Gill Fine Art is a family home, so we tried to put the lights and everything as nice and professional as we can.
PVD: In this exhibition you choose to focus on Hanoi based artists, Gabby Quynh Anh Miller's essay 'History of Experimental Art in Hanoi', also focuses on this city. How do you see Saigon as contributing to experimental art practice in Vietnam? What kind of relationship exists between these two important cultural centers in Vietnam for you?
NPL: I have many artist friends living in Saigon and I admire their practices, such as Thao Nguyen, Le Hien Minh, Bui Cong Khanh, Ly Hoang Ly and other painters such as Tran Trung Tin, Do Hoang Tuong amongst others. There are many Vietnamese overseas artists that are based in Saigon, they build a good network, and their practices might influence a lot of young Saigonese artists. I think its a good thing, that local artists in Saigon would see things in different ways and make themselves working in a professional and international network. The relationship between these two important cultural centers is mostly sharing different experiences and ways of making art. We are all friends. I hope there are more opportunities to collaborate between Saigon and Hanoi artists.
PVD: This was your first visit to London, what struck you most about this city as a cultural centre?
NPL: Like other big cities in Europe, London is full with international exhibitions, concerts, plays, fashion... with big names and top artists. It is such a good experience to come and see these shows, which I cannot see in Vietnam. In such a city like London, everyone comes from different nations, very international and diverse. Architecture of old castles, catholic churches, museums etc are amazing. But I think what is happening in Asia, especially South East Asia, is now more attractive for me.