KVT at ‘People in the City'

KVT at ‘People in the City'

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Last week was a week of fairly uninteresting and uninspiring gallery gazing until Saturday morning when I went along to Goethe with a degree of heightened anticipation to catch Pham Ngoc Duong’s exhibition ‘People in a City’. Anticipation because I’d seen images of his Maggots when they squirmed around a museum in Singapore.

And I wasn’t disappointed! If Duong’s installation is a precursor to the art that lies in store for us this year then we are going to be in for a year of wonders. Mind you there’ll be the usual mind-numbing dross that some galleries throw at us, with overblown artists statements and gallery publicity blurbs, but Duong has set the bar really high and artists and galleries will really have to work hard to match him.

All artists and the better galleries should take a look at Duong’s exhibition statement. It’s succinct, doesn’t swamp itself in absurdities of prettiness or so-called spirituality… and it’s readable. No hyperbole or art talk crap.

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Conceptual art should mean ideas, good ideas. Ideas that make you see anew. I agree with a newspaper columnist in Australia who wants the conceptual art she views to be wild, rude, romantic, embarrassing, apocalyptic, political, uncouth (all, some, or one)*.

Duong’s exhibition is excellent conceptual art. It’s unfortunate that his breath-taking sculptural work has to be seen in such close proximity to the arresting and beautifully unsubtle canvasses… but them’s the breaks when there’s a paucity of exhibition spaces that have the foresight and courage to mentor artists and artistry of this calibre.

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When you enter the gallery and see the gigantic Transformer dominating the space you immediately think Jeff Koons but Duong’s dramatic sculpture has outdone Koons. It needs time to wander around and take in all its assorted tales. A child’s head is being forced out a vagina, another is being defecated into the world, other contorted bodies are squirming around its arms, legs and torso. It’s a horribly fascinating work.

The cohort of high school students in conformed lines, squashed into their individual cubes is totally engrossing and every intelligent viewer will have their own valid interpretations of this stunningly good field of sculptures.

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Why say more except to encourage you to go and see this exhibition. This deserves a mark of twenty out of ten and when you realize that Duong is only 33 years old you know that there’ll be even better to come. Duong is an artist of increasing international stature. Duong’s Transformer and his Students… they can stand alone or be part of the same installation… would fit into any important museum’s collection.

See it and see art anew

* Elizabeth Farrelly, Syndney Morning Herald, 09/01

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.

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