KVT – Best of 2012

KVT – Best of 2012

KVT Awards 2012

Vietnamese version is now available!!!

It’s that time of the year when I compile a list of the best cultural stuff I saw around Hanoi in 2012. This year its more of a retrospective .

IN ABSENTIA…I was absent, on and off, for about 3 months so I apologise for any good bits and pieces that I have omitted …but feel free to add your favorites to my list.

CRITERIA…..I’ve restricted my list to public exhibitions and events that I’ve seen in Hanoi and thus have had to disqualify great stuff that I’ve viewed in private that would have made the TOP TEN. These include works by Tuan Anh that was exhibited in TPHCM

The list only includes work by Vietnamese nationals, Viet Khieu who have a base here, and foreigners who have played a collaborative role with the locals.

OPINIONISTA …..The list is naturally limited to  my interest areas so if I’ve left out yours its because I’m just not interested, didn’t come across any thing in that genre that sparkled enough; and I’d be totally silly to include stuff I couldn’t read or understand ie: Vietnamese language books, movies etc.

This year I’m going to start the TOP OF THE POPS list with some international collaborative shows and workshops that have added a lot of necessary excitement to the local art scene:

riverscape in flux 4

RIVERSCAPES in FLUX a traveling exhibition of South East Asian Artists organized by Goethe that included top class pieces by Nguyen Thi Thanh, Luong Hue Trinh, Phan Thao Nguyen and Nguyen The Son.

Paramodel 2

PARAMODEL by the Japan Foundation that provided a new look for the foundation and that had lots of Vietnamese assistants.

HSS 12

SOUND STUFF FESTIVAL that had local musicians like Tri Minh bouncing off international, new music groups.

CRACKING BAMBOO organized by Goethe with original percussion compositions involving talented locals and international talent.

art under the roof 1

ART UNDER THE ROOF at the Muong Culture Center in Hoa Binh that gave scores of international and local artists the chance to create and share during an intensive live in.


Skylines With Flying People 5207

SKYLINES WITH FLYING PEOPLE at the Japan Foundation in December and which heads my list of  the TEN BEST LOCAL THINGS OF 2012 thanks to the vision of Nguyen Phuong Linh and the co-operative studio work of local artists

NINE OTHER FIVE STAR EVENTS WERE …………in order of appearance on the cultural calendar from most recent…….

THE WALL by Bopha Xorgia- Le Huy Hoang at Goethe in December.

CO SAO a re-staging of the revolutionary opera at the Opera House by the VNSO under the baton of Tetsuji Honna, and the National Opera Ballet Company ..also in December.

Performance Inside Outside 3

INSIDE /OUTSIDE a stunning performance piece by two Swedes and many Vietnamese in November.

The VNSO and Maestro Honna with MAHLER’S 7th in October and with SHOSTAKOVICH’S 5th at the 50th Subscription Concert in April

Nguyen Nghia Cuong - Venus

VENUS in VIETNAM at Goethe in October. An important retrospective of  part of Vu Dan Tan’s Venus series and a very provocative and much discussed collection of sculptures in cardboard by Nguyen Nghia Cuong. And review by Ilza

Bich Phuong-A Transformative Disguise-J15

A TRANSFORMATIVE DISGUISE: works on silk by Le Hoang Bich Phuong at the Japan Foundation in May.

PORTRAIT of VIETNAM: really excellent wood and clay sculptures at the Viet Art Center by Nguyen Nhu Y in May

Exhibition Houses Facing the Street

HOUSES FACING the STREET: photographic exhibition with a sculptural touch in March at the Goethe by Nguyen The Son (with a TPHCM version down south later in the year).



Vu Duc Trung 5140

Vu Duc Trung’s lacquers at Mai Gallery that may or may not be LANDSCAPES

Nguyen Tran Cuong-blue sun

The delicious works on paper, PAPER NO 2, at the Nguyen Art Gallery by Nguyen Tran Cuong and Le Hung Xuan Linh.

Maika Elan- The Pink Choice 14

Maika Elan(Nguyen Thanh Hai) ‘s PINK CHOICE photographic portraits at Goethe.

KVT Silken Seduction 6

Fantasy WORKS on SILK by Vu Dinh Tuan at the Viet Art Center.

Reflections in Black on Black

The ENDANGERED ANIMALS series( that were part of Project Black) by Tran Chi Thanh from Hue.

Dang Xuan Truong Look2 p6

LOOK 2: a series of ethnic photographic portraits by Dang Xuan Truong who got a big tick because of his transformation of the gallery spaces at the Art Museum.

luu tuyen 6

A lot of Luu Tuyen’s dolls at Yiet Kieu were nice to be with under ‘COVER of REALITY’.


Vietnamese Barons 2

VIETNAMESE BARONS in Ngo Quyen by 12 artists in satirical mode was a winner


PROJECT BLACK’S fairly controversial group show at he Viet Art Center  was a hit with me

Exhibition 5 years G1

TAKE FIVE was a seriously beautiful showcasing of an embroidery artist, some good video people and a French fabric artist. It was in Hang Bai and nearly made my top 10.


Luong Viet’s small sculptural pieces at Chula

Vuong Van Thao b34

Vuong Van Thao’s fossils of ST JOSEPH’S at the Korean Culture Center and his SKULLS at Bookworm Too


The very white performance art piece CLINGING HYBRID at Goethe by Lai Thi Dieu Ha

Manzi 5159

A classically motivated installation ‘DE RERUM NATURA by Rich Streitmatter Tran at Manzi

exhibition Lost Moments

And the most humorous affair of the year which  were the LOST MOMENT sculptures of Pham Thai Binh at the Art Museum

MOVING IMAGES apart from those at Take Five

Doc Lab’s MINI DOC FESTIVAL early in the year had some really involving pieces on screen

Exhibition Jo Ha Kyu 9

The results of Nguyen Trinh Thi and Jamie Maxtone- Graham’s trip to Japan resulted in a very poetic multi media collaboration called JO HA KYU with extra nice photos and video piece

A moving documentary, WITH OR WITHOUT ME by Phuong Thao Tran and Swann Dubus about drugs in Dien Bien Phu


The star of the music scene this year was the excellent voice of soprano Ha Pham Thang  Long. Particularly in the operatic role of Co Sao

Chamber music groups came to the fore this year with TRIO TRINITY doing a great Rachmaninov Sonata for Piano and Cello at Goethe. SONG HONG did a brilliant collaboration with the Austrian Acies at the Opera House and their Vu Nhat Tan piece was excellent. AURORA  gave a truly nice interpretation of Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’

The VNSO under the baton of maestro Honna and with the voices of three choirs, led by Graham Sutcliffe excelled in Mozart’s CORONATION MASS.

Under the direction of guest conductors the VNSO were oustanding with BEETHOVEN”S 5th, SIBELIUS ,TCHAIKOVSKY’s 4th  and a VU NHAT TAN tone poem.

The collaboration between the Austrian Piano Duo D’Accord and two local percussionists Prof Vu Chi Nguyen and Doan Mai Huong made STRAVINSKY’S  ‘Rite Of Spring’ really soar and RAVEL’S Bolero really hum

Local soloists with the VNSO that made me glad to be there included Nguyen My Huong playing Saint Sean’s Violin Concerto in a super special gown, cellist Ngo Hoang Quan with Schumann’s Cello concerto, Bui Cong Duy in Bruch’s Violin Concerto 1 and French based Nguyen Huu Ngyen with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

AND ENDING UP WITH A HUGE THANKS TO ALL THE EMBASSIES, CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS, AND THEIR SPONSORS WHO MADE BIG THINGS HAPPEN and include the Japanese and the Japan Foundation, The Germans and Goethe, the Danes, the French and L’Espace, Swedes, Austrians, Norwegians, Spanish, Italians, European Union ……………………………………etc

Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.

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  1. … I note that your awards are given to the institution -alised / or aspiring to the normative examples of this year’s exhibitions and artists…

    … by the same criteria, you neatly omitted the very unique, independent and non – aligned with no institution voice of Artist Nguyen Nhu Y and his exhibition.

    … given your connoisseur’s enthusiastic response in the comments for his show @ http://hanoigrapevine.com/2012/05/ilza-burchett-the-essence-of-things/

    I am surprised at your omission.

  2. To Ilza

    After reading the bits and pieces I see that the show by Nguyen Nhu Y is mentioned in the top ten. I also agree that it had to be given a high mention and had it been deleted, I, like you, would have been clamoring for its addition. I agree also though that it would be a nice thing to include your critique as a link. Perhaps you missed it because there is no image from the exhibition included but, then, this is the case with quite a few entries. I don’t think that this is deliberate on the part of the writer as I surmise that links and images are in the hands of the editorial section of the blog who appear to have done a good job with such an unweildy selection. I also note with interest that the writer at no time mentions awards, rather the writer’s personal selection. Perhaps the term ‘awards’ is also an editorial selection as it is well known that in many magazines and newspapers etc, the writer sometimes has little control over headlines and titles awarded his/her submissions. Whether this is the case with the Grapevine and this article I don’t know but I think that the title given is an eye catching one and invites delving into the article.

    My best wishes
    Chloe, a part time resident and reader

  3. To Chloe,

    Thank you for spotting it and pointing out to me that the Artist Nguyen Nhu Y and his exhibition are included in the KVT Awards !

    To KVT,

    In light of the above, I withdraw my comment above.

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