All lit up and Supadupa!

All lit up and Supadupa!

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The Convergence of Light was scintillating.

My xe-om driver said that although he couldn’t understand it he really liked it. And “like it” was the common expression used by the thousands of people who wandered through the installations that made up this marvelous night time event.

The Danes and any others who helped fund this best art thing I’ve ever seen in Hanoi must feel that it was money well spent. If the aim of good, and in this case often thoughtful, art is to have it seen and commented on by the widest possible audience then the success of Light was phenomenal. Vietnamese from almost all strata of society craned, peered, queried, puzzled and enjoyed.

The mastermind behind this extravaganza was artist Dao Anh Khanh who corralled some of Hanoi’s best mid career artists to invent and reinvent their ideas, take them out of the safety of the mainly elitist galleries and the gaze of the converted and spread them along a 600m section of the dyke road in Gia Lam, down a long village alley and into the lushly treed and water tumbling garden of his thatched, stilt house studio. He is a such a creative organizer that if I owned an international events organization company I’d snatch him up on a huge salary.

As soon as I spied the first installations glowing into the night three or so km up from Long Bien Bridge I knew I had found October’s visual nirvana (not to mention November’s – as I went on Halloween and had to go back for another enthrallment the next night). The cunning light boxes by Vuong Thao at the start of the glowing meander were inviting and I definitely want one.

So far this year, up until now, my favorite of all exhibitions in Hanoi has been that by Doan Hoang Kien and his red and white striped bamboo poles at the Viet Fine Arts Gallery. When I saw them again from the dyke road, soaring into the black sky, all 500 of them, and glinting from the 3,000 circular mirrors strung through them, with the immense structure professionally lit, and the crowd interacting at it, in it and through it, I sighed another contented and over-awed oooooohhhhhhaaaaaahhhhhh.

This sigh was continual. Past beautifully conceived water, light and sound sculptures; past a line of virginal brides sedately offering gifts to us, the prospective suitors, ambling past; past video projections on screens, brick walls and up through a well; past transparent vehicles; laviciously inviting nude figures with skeletons of cane and outlined with fairy lights; past fishponds; roofs alight with Buddhas, lanterns and strange offerings. Red coals on top a SUV; a Halloween maze; and; and; and; and; and so on.

If this convergence is a precursor to other art stuff to be planned for the 1000-year birthday party then it will be a magnificent fest. If the powers that organize such things haven’t got Dao Anh Khanh signed up to organize or host more public events then I suggest they grab hold of him soon, and the band of artists who collaborated so magnificently.

I was so impressed by it all I couldn’t stop looking long enough to jot down the names of the artists who all deserve to have their names illuminated in multi-colored neon.

To the readers, an apology for the superlatives…..every one, though, fully deserved. A superlative convergence!

Not a reviewer, not a critic, “Kiếm Văn Tìm” is an interested, impartial and informed observer and connoisseur of the Hanoi art scene who offers highly opinionated remarks and is part of the long and venerable tradition of anonymous correspondents. Please add your thoughts in the comment field below.


  1. I fully agree, this was the best art event I have seen in Hanoi yet. Such an intermingling of crowds and such a cross section of Hanoi community all there, looking, appreciating, trying to figure out art.

    My one criticism would be that some of the pieces were to close together to be able to appreciate them fully, which I suppose is due to space restrictions…

    Amazing though.. Amazing..

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