KVT – Manga Plus Plus

KVT – Manga Plus Plus

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KVT 2013

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KVT in very appreciative mood at V.FAM

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I stayed away from the Japanese Foundation’s ‘Winter Garden’ exhibition at V. FAM (Vietnamese Fine Art Museum ) for as long as I could because I just couldn’t bear another trawl through rooms of wide eyed Manga folk accosting me with their huge,angsty, juvenile eyes……But my personal manga angst was misplaced. Only one small section was given over to this genre and it was easy to give them the beady eye as you strolled past them and engaged in what is a very impressive show spread over two floors….even if the Manga Bangas are exceptionally good.

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It’s another mini blockbuster for the Japanese with drifts of mainly young viewers wandering up and down the stairs

It’s called ‘Winter Garden: the exploration of the micropop imagination in contemporary Japanese art’ (which all sounds deliciously obscure) and the 35 works are by artists who were born between 1970 and 80.

I liked the curator’s suggestion that a winter garden can be implied to be an artificially climated hothouse where exotica takes root and flourishes

Once you realized that Koki Tanaka was Japan’s representative at this year’s Venice Biennale, you knew why you were drawn to his short video pieces especially that sputtering fuse wire in ‘Light My Fire’ as it burns ominously but never reaches a point of detonation. Most people can relate to that emotional tension.

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I also liked the other fire works by what appears to be a subversive art collective’s attempts to draw attention to pressing social issues in ways that delight the pyromaniac that lurks inside all our psyches.  The  video, ‘Feelin’ like the guys make me hot 01’, makes you want to start your own local branch of the Chim Pom collective (of which , Hanoian performance artist, Dao Anh Khanh, with his love of fiery installations, would be president. The music used in the short video is blood stirring…sort of makes your fingers itch for some volatile fuel and matches.

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I must admit that my favorite piece in the whole collection was Lyota Yagi’s ‘Vinyl’ installation in which frozen moulds are made of 45rpm vinyl records ( which if you still remember using shows just how very mid middle aged you have become). The moulds are played on one of those natty little portables- that if you owned one puts you in the olden day category-and as the ice melts the sounds gradually disintegrate. Music played on the day I visited was ‘Moon River’ which, if my memory was in decline and fragmenting, would be one of the last tunes I’d want to hold onto, though the image it conjures of Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is definitely OK.

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Other track stopping works for me are the videos by Taro Izumi, in particular ‘White Bear’ in which images, like memory, are non durable……and the piece where images on TV screens are delightfully interfered with and thus desecrated (well TV is  a major deity or altar of most people!)

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The delightful, gridded drawing for cat slide by Tam Ochiai is a real winner….

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…….the felt pen on ceramic tile drawings by Masanori Handa remind me of those memory maps I doodle onto all sorts of available surfaces which have latitudinal and longitudinal bearings on them and which provide me with experiential flashbacks. My imagination was in overdrive translating the mind journeys of this artist…

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The image mapping roof tops is marvellous

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….The countless fine lines in the drawings by Hiroe Saeki that seem to be in the process of slowly invading their canvasses are really nice

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….Then there are the very engaging and allegorical masks by Masaya Chiba ….

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…..and Royoko Aoki’s ‘The Sun’ which although I don’t immediately comprehend, is one of those installations that I went back to several times.

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I’ll long remember the lovely works by Hiroshi Sugito which, for some reason had me remembering Luc Tuyman whose sparsely colored works helped resuscitate painting in the latter part of the last century.

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It’s an excellent exhibition and one of immense importance to the local student and emerging artists who don’t get enough chances to see a bit of cutting edge art by their overseas counterparts


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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