Written with photos and videos by Hà Bi for HanoiGrapevine
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An interesting fact of Dogma Prize 2019 – a prestigious award that encourages and supports Vietnamese artists in their home country and abroad – is that this year, 14 finalist artists’ birthyear range from the 50s to the 90s. This face-to-face encounter of self-portraits thus was expressed in fascinatingly diverse perspectives.
At the opening of the exhibition, which is also the award ceremony of Dogma Prize, Mr. Le Quang Dinh – member of the jury – said: “In the selection process of Dogma Prize, many entries were very good but eliminated due to their relevance to the theme of Self-portrait. In the end, however, the Dogma Prize decided to select 14 artworks that are diverse both in terms of composition – traditional and modern – and its author’s age.”
14 finalist artists this year included seniors like Nguyen Minh Chau (b. 1953), some from a middle generation like Vu Ngoc Vinh (b. 1978), Vu Quang (b. 1982)… and those born in the late 90s like Pham Nguyen Anh Tu (b. 1997), Phan Thi Hoai Nhi (b. 1996)… The diversity of generations makes the exhibition even more interesting when the audience get to the self-reflection journey of the “old” and the “new” people.
You will see this difference most clearly when looking at the series of paintings of artists from different generations: Bau vat cua Thien Chua (Treasure of God – Nguyen Minh Chau, b. 1953) examining a flesh wound with a cubist perspective; Toan trang (White veil – Nguyen Van Bay, b. 1982) reflected on a “đời thừa” (“redundant life”, a famous literary work by Nam Cao), for the sake of art or of humankind, behind the easel; Bi an duoi lop vo boc (The Hidden Mystery – Dang Viet Linh, b. 1993) contemplating the wall around one’s self – what forbids the inside from expressing itself, and also mark the safe zone of a person before stepping into a new world full of suspicion and loneliness.
One noticeable thing is, the younger the author, the more diverse their creative language. There are works that use 2D shapes and conventional movies to dive deeper into the inner self. With Silence, Pham Hong (b. 1983) depicts a silent space, as if that of an object being slowly invaded by mold. Somewhere, amidst the pain of growing up, the ignorant silence of other people around is the mold that spreading in and eroding the hearts of people. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for that heart to change, pushing us to grow up or to fail.
Khong de (Untitled) by Pham Nguyen Anh Tu (b. 1997) is an attempt to “capture” the thoughts that flashed through his head, that happened in his brain when he was a child. The video tells a very naive, not quite logical but completely natural imagination of a child on his growing journey. This is also the work that won the Residency Prize in Taiwan as part of this year’s Dogma Prize.
The First Prize of Dogma Prize 2019 is Cu nga (The Fall) by Giang Nguyen (b. 1989), an installation and performance piece, depicting the experience and contemplation of human’s ego – the one who considers himself unique, invincible, irreplaceable – in a world soon to be dominated by artificial intelligence. Through repetitive falls and observing how the body moves afterwards, the artist questions the difference of humans with artificial intelligence machines, wonders about the right and wrong in the evolution of the planet’s most abundant “naked apes”. “The jury crowned Cu nga because while the other works often depict Self-portrait by looking at one’s self in relation to society, environment or achievement, personal experience, Giang chose the opposite perspective of failure. The fall does not only happen once, with our flesh, but also many times, spiritually, physically, to our ego or any other thing.” – said Mr. Le Quang Dinh.
Jury member Le Quang Dinh at the Award ceremony, and the performance The Fall by Giang Nguyen:
The brand new, multidimensional perspectives of artists participating in this year’s Dogma Prize promise new discoveries and experiences with Self-portrait. This is, after all, an invitation to the face-to-face encounter for the artists to combine differences to focus on the common concern with the ego of multiple generations.
Exhibition “Cuoc doi dien” (Encounter) as part of Dogma Prize 2019 continues to be on display at Galerie Quynh (118 Nguyen Van Thu, Da Kao Ward, District 1, HCMC) from 8 Aug to 7 Sep 2019.
Dogma Prize was founded in 2009 under the exclusive sponsorship of Dogma Collection. This is the 6th year of the biannual art prize. The focus of Dogma Prize is Self-portrait – one of the most fascinated topic for artists of all times. This year, Dogma Prize’s jury includes Le Quang Dinh, Le Thua Tien and Dinh Thi Tham Poong.
Translated by Hanoi Grapevine