Written by ULy and Nguyen Duc Tung for Hanoi Grapevine
Please do not copy and/or re-post without the permission from the author.
From 11 to 16 Apr 2019, Pan Pacific Hanoi opened the exhibition titled “The Art of the Journey” at the main lobby of the hotel, displaying 37 works by 20 famous artists in the early years of Vietnam’s Renovation period. And this is only a small part of Pan Pacific Hanoi’s art collection.
On the opening day of the exhibition, Pan Pacific Hanoi also released the book “The Art of the Journey” introducing 170 paintings and sculptures by outstanding artists in the Asia Pacific region that are in the collection of Pan Pacific Hanoi. This is a valuable publication, showing a highly aesthetic art collection created with care and refinement. The poems, idioms of writers and thinkers from ancient times are placed next to the artworks, making for a more enjoyable experience with this book. The publication is of high-quality to the smallest detail that makes the print feel like an actual smaller version of the original works themselves.
During the press talk for Hanoi Grapevine and other reporters, Ms. Wee Wei Ling – Executive Director of the Asset & Lifestyle Division at the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, said Hanoi was the first to exhibit this exhibition as well as to launch this art book, because for the past 20 years, among 137 Vietnamese works that Pan Pacific Hanoi acquired, 37 are selected to be included in the book, the highest number compared to other countries, even more than the number of works selected from Singapore selected for the book. For Ms. Wee, this is also a precious opportunity to meet the artists.
Why did you choose to publish this work at this time?
I have just been assigned this task since about 4 years ago. We recognize that art is a very important part of the hotel. So we have set up a whole board of curators in Singapore to evaluate the works the hotel acquired. I realized that we have numerous precious works after all those years – a treasure for us. It is never too late. We also want to see works from new artists. If we see the potential, we will make an investment, purchase their paintings for decoration in our hotels. I am very happy to meet the artists whose paintings we bought even 20 years ago, and see that they are very successful and famous.
How did the artists start working with Pan Pacific Hanoi?
Artist Dang Xuan Hoa: Back then a Singaporean architect/curator named Tan came to my solo exhibition in 1997. After that, he went to visit my studio and liked my works. When this hotel was built, Tan himself led me to the place to order an artwork to hang on the wall in the hall. It is the “Nhat Nguyet” which is also in this exhibition. The painting is relatively large at 3 meters long and 1.5 meters wide. We discussed it very carefully. He let me know that the wall will be lined with marble stones so that I could choose the colors accordingly, and also showed me the interior design plan. For the rest, the artist is free to create.
Before accepting the invitation, I asked him why he didn’t just go to a street stalls and bought a painting. Back then, many hotels in Hanoi bought low-priced paintings in the market. He answered that the hotel wanted a private collection of higher art value and has the voice of the age. Then I accepted, and for the first time I create a work of art for a 5-star hotel in Hanoi.
Artist Le Tri Dung: My forte is lacquer painting and there was a customer ordered me a painting in the theme of Hanoi’s old town. The artwork is about 2.4 meters long and was completed about 26 years ago. I painted O Quan Chuong with tiled roofs and Hanoi people in their everyday life. This is a painting that I’m really satisfied with and also marked the beginning of my relation with Pan Pacific Hanoi.
When that customer came to pick up the painting, he discovered that in my studio there were thousands of paintings of Tu Hai (Xu Hai), Thuy Kieu (Wang Cui-qiao) and horses. Vietnamese people jokingly called me a “stableman” because up until now I have made around 20,000 paintings about horses. I also admire Tu Hai, a very heroic figure alongside the beauty of Thuy Kieu. Their love was short-lived and tragic, but it touched me. In the painting “Tu Hai – Thuy Kieu”, I came up with the idea of painting a fierce, strking horse outside the military camp. My customer was very interested in this painting right when he saw it and then bought it. From then on, I started drawing hundreds of painting of horses, all were of Tu Hai.
Earlier this year, Ms. Wee told me that all my works are still being kept by Pan Pacific Hanoi in good condition. I am happy to know that though “my children” are lost in all corners of the world, they are always taken care of. I also want to express my admiration for Pan Pacific Hanoi’s efforts to preserve and introduce Vietnam’s culture to the world.
For the last two decades, Pan Pacific Hanoi has gone through many organizational changes. How can the enterprise maintain the collection and retain the artworks?
Ms. Wee: We have rules that even if we sell hotel, we would still keep the artworks. These works belong to us and we don’t want to sell them for fear that the new owner would not appreciate art. So we would keep them and put them on display in our places. Currently we have 137 works by Vietnamese artists, I could choose the best ones to bring to Singapore if we want to continue the exhibition there. It is our effort and we respect the artists. If you like them, you will cherish them. If you don’t like it, you’ll just abandon them.
If we have to sell, we want to sell to museums and big galleries because we want more people to be able to see the paintings. This is not a personal collection. “Personal” is something I keep myself for myself only. I can’t be that selfish! You can visit our hotel and enjoy all 137 original paintings from Vietnamese painters.
In Singapore, United Overseas Bank has, for many years, organized the “Painting of the Year” competition with great rewards. Pan Pacific Hotels Group also wants to be able to do something in Vietnam to support the artists. We welcome every idea!
At the end of the talk, Ms. Wee continued to express her desire to contribute to the development of art in Vietnam, making Pan Pacific Hanoi a trusted place for artists to come and perform.
Translated by Hanoi Grapevine