KVT – Text and Context

KVT – Text and Context

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Australian print maker Ian Mcintosh has an interesting exhibition at an interesting new gallery, Van Viet at 36 Ly Thuong Kiet.

McIntosh has apparently been visiting Vietnam for some years and using his experiences to make art. In this exhibition he has layered and collaged multiple advertising images onto found and probably relevant newspaper sheets and added text in Vietnamese and English. The results are colorfully eye catching and to my mind are symptomatic with any foreign artists attempting to make sense of a culture alien to them.

2-200No matter how many layers they construct or deconstruct, do they manage to scratch very far below the polished lacquer surface and extract meaning? So often the art of foreign guests, be it painting, photography, video etc only makes a real impact on foreign viewers who are similarly scrabbling at those incomprehensible layers within layers of a radically different culture, or who are perhaps pleased to have their own opinions re-inforced.

Are the pieces in McIntosh’s installation art as travelogue? It’s traditional for outsiders to represent the landscapes and cultures of the exotic others through their own eyes, and as modern art practices have developed the mediums used have changed and abstract ways of representation have become more common. In the long run are they comprehensible to the traveller or outsider only…. or do they make viable connections with the locals?

3-200I think it would be interesting to exhibit McIntosh and his representation of progress and change alongside Vietnamese artists who have worked in similar vein. One of many that comes to mind immediately is Vu Duc Trung who had some provocative work on paper in a group exhibition at the Bookworm early last year. He’s one of many young and savvy local artists whose work would bounce off McIntosh’s either complimentarily or aggressively. Then we’d have another exhibition that may rattle our socks. A collaborative workshop and exhibition would be an ideal way for the sponsors to make another valuable contribution.

I’d have liked McIntosh to have been around when Emergency Room was playing with ideas at the University of Fine Art in October. He’d have been a good commentator and contributor.

A good exhibition to see and discuss… especially as it’s next door to the Women’s Museum and the artist’s representation of genders makes a good starting point.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Australian Embassy who have promised that this year they’ll be giving us some more challenging stuff… and we hope another treat with white hot glass.

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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