By Ut Quyen and Uyen Ly for Hanoi Grapevine
Which visual art events during are in your must-see-list last week? For Hanoi Grapevine, they are: “Calculus Exercise #6/5” at Manzi, “Blossoms & Birds” at eSpace in Dinh Le, “Tea Art” at L’Espace, and “Cathedral Concert” at St. Joseph’s Cathedral
1. Calculus Exercise #6/5 – Manzi (Jun 30)
The second solo exhibition by Nguyen Huy An has been quite successful in clearly depicting the artistic style and perspective, the straightforward attitude toward life’s and society’s issues, and even the personality of the artist. The very deep indigenous culture expressed throughout the exhibited works leaves an unforgettable impression on viewers. It shows the very distinctive character in Nguyen Huy An himself and his art practice.
Canh in Vietnamese is a word for counting night hours in the old days according to the can chi system – known as the Sexagenary cycle – a very ancient concept which have been playing a center role in Vietnamese cultural sphere. For many thousands years, the Vietnamese did not count time according to the 24 hour system of the modern time but divided a day to 5 canh of night time and 6 khắc of daylight. Therefore, the title Canh Sáu, literally means the sixth canh, is both extremely familiar and odd at the same time, since there is no sixth canh but only up to the fifth. The same feeling would follow viewers throughout this exhibition when they find in every artwork a dense use of wordplay sentences, symbols which derive from idioms, phrases, countryside folktales, historical places and cultural objects across the Red River Delta. The artworks, as they are said, express “the vague, hopeless yet unquestionably determined acts described with every single sentence manifests the artist’s nostalgia for the old days as well as a melancholic irony as a response to the fast change of the country.” To accompany this journey of emotion, viewers need to walk through layers and layers of Vietnamese northern cultural sediment.
In the time when many other young artists his age trying to establish themselves in the internationalized art world and to make their work comprehensible to the whole world, Nguyen Huy An on the contrary, choose to express through his art only things which are the closest to his own essence. The daring to walk on a solitude path is what makes himself stand out from the Vietnam Contemporary Art scene.
2. “Blossoms & Birds” – eSpace (Jul 06)
The exhibition by Thai Nhat Minh and Tran An, the two well-known young sculptors among Vietnamese art lovers, will last until July 6th at eSpace (No.1 Dinh Le), so you don’t have to be rush but rather spend time to answer these following questions:
• Are you familiar with artworks by these two sculptors?
• Are you willing to possess “highly artistic” sculptures for the price from $1,000 to $2,500?
If the answers are no and/or yes: you should definitely go. However if the answers are yes and no, you may still want go, but do not expected too much. Why is that?
As a follower of Thai Nhat Minh and Tran An, the works of the two artists displayed in the exhibition may still satisfy you by their “artistry”, although they may be quite familiar as being developed from the concept and visual styles which the two artists have been pursuing for several years. However, if you are looking forward to seeing a great combination in which “work space and art space intertwine”, this exhibition will be a great disappointment, because it is where the art space is completely overwhelmed by the work space. Thai Nhat Minh’s works hangs on the wall, and fills three shelves which scatter here and there, while Tran An’s works are displayed on the office table across the in the room without a clear intention. And to create “an extremely interesting dialogue” between Tran An’s iron works and Thai Nhat Minh’s paper one, we would have to wait for the reunion of these two artists in another space or in another way of display the artworks.
3. Trà Art – L’Espace (Jul 06)
“Trà ART is an experience that will gently awaken our 5 senses and bring us to the world of Shan tea through different art forms,” said the organizer. However, to experience how these five senses are awaken, you have to go there to experience yourself and be patient. Entering L’Espace from the main door, you will be immediately attracted by the colorful terraced fields made from painstakingly cutting and gluing countless thin rubber pieces. Combined with a string of interwoven fabric from the ceiling connected to the ground with the sandbags which represent for tree roots, Tran Thu Hang’s “Endless Circle” makes an attractive opening for the discovery which brings viewers the mountains of Ha Giang, where tea trees of hundreds years old grown by local ethnic minorities.
Through the tea curtain, behind the “Endless Circle”, we can enjoy the pure scent of the dried Shan tea which have undergone meticulous processing. A series of paintings using enhanced virtual reality technology by artist Nguyen Quynh Phuong and British artist Marcus Bowler are the highlights of the exhibition. At first glance, ten paintings seem to be just the ordinary illustrations of stories of nature and people of the land where plants Shan tea. But if you follow the instructions, install the “Zappar” app on your smartphone or tablet, the secret content from these paintings appear in your phone camera will make you “Wow!” with excitement. However, before going to this exhibition you should check whether L’Espace has a duplicate event that day. In the afternoon of my visit, there was an opening of a photo exhibition “Day of converging the quintessential practice of Mother Goddess Worshiping in Vietnam”. The spatial overlap between the two events made the appreciation for Trà Art significantly decreased.
The first event in the free-entry Cathedral Concert Series by Maestoso was a success. There were barely seats left in the church.
At around 20h15, the concert begins with Sonata in B flat Major K.454 performed by the sister duo violinist Hoang Ho Khanh Van and pianist Hoang Ho Thu. Beautiful, soft, mellow melodies were filling the air. Ho Thu and Khanh Van were even more in sync and confident in their performance. Although, the audience have to listen closely to ‘feel’ this acoustic melody in such a grand venue.
In the second part, the atmosphere in the cathedral was filled with this passionate, romantic, at times dramatic sensation thanked to pianist Luu Duc Anh and cellist Phan Do Phuc with the Sonata for in G minor, Op.19 by Rachmaninov. It was such a special feeling to feel your heart touched by the loving sound of music, your body moved to the melody, with the cathedral’s Gothic dome at your view. The cathedral – a sacred place – were then dedicated to music and love, embedded in the mind of every audience presented that night.
If the sound system were more carefully managed and were loud enough to cover the whole auditorium, the concert would have been more amazing.
A week filled with art makes life much more interesting, isn’t it? What are you expecting next week? Join us – Hanoi Grapevine – to see what are coming next!