An interview with four artists from VCCA’s Young Artists Incubation Program 2019

An interview with four artists from VCCA’s Young Artists Incubation Program 2019

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Written by Cao Tùng Lê with photos by Nguyễn Đức Tùng for Hanoi Grapevine and VCCA
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“VCCA Young Artist Incubation Program” by Vincom Center for Contemporary Arts (VCCA) has received a lot of attention from the art community and audience, recently launched “Seeding” exhibition (from 8 Nov until 25 Nov 2019). On this occasion, we invite you to get to know the four young artists of the program.

Hà Thúy Hằng

Ha Thuy Hang was born in 1989 and started studying classical piano at the age of 12. After graduating with a degree in Musicology from Vietnam National Academy of Music in 2014, she took a course Domdom – The Hub For Experimental Music & Art. Ha Thuy Hang is one of the 7 young Vietnamese artists selected by the British Council to participate in FAMLAB 2018, as part of Connecting Heritage program. She co-founded and leads the project “The Future of Tradition” – sponsored by the British Council’s FAMLAB Fund. She is interested in the contemporary of Vietnamese traditional music and always explores and creates her own way of improvising with materials from Vietnamese traditional and new electronic music.

Ha Thuy Hang joins in “Seeding” with a multimedia installation combining sound and images, and a performance named “Những rung động chậm” (Slow Vibrations). Regarding the inspiration for the work, Ha Thuy Hang said:

In British Council FAMLAB 2018 art program, I went on a field trip to research about gong music of the Bahnar people and the ritual music of the Cham people. Listening to Vietnamese traditional ethnic music, it brought tears to my eyes. Each ethnic artisan has their own way of playing the instruments, putting all their mind, heart, soul and life into the sound. When I went to their house, ate with them, talked, listened to them play, I felt that their art, the sound they make, were their true self.

And then I felt that life in the old days passed by very slowly, in terms of both space and time. The ethnic artisans I have met have captured that spirit of life and recreate it through the sound of the instrument. All of these inspired me to restructure their music to create new melodies.

Through improvising experimental music, I can express myself, speak my own voice, which I could not do with classical music. Experimental music was strange, bizarre, hard to listen to at first, different from the music I had studied, but that was what attracted me.

Nguyễn Đình Phương

Nguyễn Đình Phương was born in 1989, graduated from Vietnam Fine Arts University majoring in Sculpture in 2016. As a student, he had had interesting encounters with locals from the city to the countryside, and even the mountainous regions. He documented images from these stories and made into video work. In 2017, he had a series of performances in rural areas, posing questions about body movement in relation to changes in awareness and understanding of space and the formation of the world. Phương has participated several art activities at home and abroad, including exhibitions at Heritage Space, Á Space, IN:ACT Performing Art Festival at Nhà Sàn Collective (Hanoi, 2018) and NIPAF Performing Art Festival 2019 (Japan).

As one of the 4 young artists in “VCCA Young Artist Incubation Program 2019”, Nguyễn Đình Phương did not join the Seeding exhibition. His work will be introduced in an upcoming program of VCCA. About his work, Phương said:

Up until now, Vietnamese artists’ artworks often has hidden meanings, metaphors, very reserved and it is a complete work, exactly like a full circle. They often work indoors according to a formula: make the painting, take it to the gallery or exhibition. That means they take their story, their thoughts and put them in another dimension, lacking openness, accumulation to radiate.

I want to do the opposite, which is improvisation. Put the artwork in a space, how that space is like, what is there; how to use that space to tell the personal story. Concise thoughts, ideas arise in a moment, no preparation of philosophy nor social opinions. I observe the space, the context, it will be like imitation. That’s the spirit: use what we have where we have it.

Đoàn Văn Tới

Born in 1989, Đoàn Văn tới graduated from Vietnam Fine Arts University majoring in Visual Arts, currently living and working in Hanoi. He practices mainly with the language of painting, using a variety of materials such as silk, oil paint, synthetic materials… He has an interest in sceneries, especially the vast fields and the way personal and collective memories shown through those landscapes. Some of the notable exhibitions he participated in: International Watercolor Exhibition (IWS) in Hanoi (2015), Pulau Ketam Art Festival, Malaysia (2016), Đồng chất (Homogeneity) Exhibition at HCMC Fine Arts Museum (2016), Watercolor Exhibition celebrating 234 years of Rattanakosin City in Bangkok, Thailand (2016). He won prizes student exhibitions at Vietnam Fine Arts University, and Second prize at Hải Phòng exhibition; he also participated in an artist residency program in Singapore.

Doan Van Toi brings to the public in this “Seeding” exhibition the large painting “Cánh đồng” (Field) sized 3m x 12m. He shared about his artistic style:

Standing in front of the deserted field, the rough soil, I tried to paint my feelings at that landscape. My creative process is that of re-creating and restructuring abstract feeling.

When we stand in front of a red painting, we think to ourselves that this is the color of blood, of death, or of sweet fruit, of love. As a matter of fact, life experiences determine each person’s thoughts and senses. My paintings represent a subjective perception of a constant, objective reality.

I was influenced by the abstract expression language by post-war German painter Anselm Kiefer, with the way he used materials. As for Vietnamese artists, there are many, such as Hà Mạnh Thắng and Phùng Quốc Chí.

Châu Lê Hoàng Gia

Chau Le Hoang Gia was born in 1995, graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Hue University of Arts, is a visual artist currently living and working in Gia Lai. He studies and explores various materials in art practice including video art, sculpture, and visual arts… Gia’s works are a process of questioning an individual’s position in their surroundings through contemplating objects and phenomena that one hears, sees, and feels in order to better understand one’s self in one’s living space.

In “Seeding” exhibition, Châu Lê Hoàng Gia uses three types of artistic languages, including sculpture, painting and video. Talking about the genre diversity of his compositions, he said:

Graduated from Hue University of Arts recently, I was wondering which artistic languages I should choose to focus on. When I was selected to participate in the “VCCA Young Talent Incubation Program 2019”, I determined not to use the knowledge I learned in school, and instead learning and experimenting new art forms. Very fortunately, in this program, VCCA Art Director Mizuki encouraged me to try new things, and above all gave me an opportunity to do that. That’s why I use many kinds of languages in this exhibition.

Interviewer: What is the thing that connect these three artistic languages?

What maintains the connection throughout is the question on the position of man in the natural environment, and the material, the mountain pepper tree. When I used the tree wood to make sculptures, the wood itself had a story and a journey to tell, I only added to that my personal story. The tree leaves also produce mucus, which I used as a solvent with the ‘color particles’ to make paintings. In the past, I used to paint in a traditional style, but this time I used natural color materials: charcoal, crushed leaves.

Interview: How do you feel when you were selected for the “VCCA Young Artists Incubation Program 2019”?

Lucky. Back when I lived in Huế, I just went to school and had few opportunities to participate in programs like this and interact with other artists, so I had very narrow knowledge. I joined the program with the attitude of willing to learn and expanding my view. VCCA created a great professional curriculum, helped me learn the basics, and followed me very closely in my individual art practice. I live in Gia Lai, but the geographical distance is almost not a problem, because the VCCA supports travel expenses. In addition to the lessons, when I return, I regularly contact, call, send emails, and talk with the curators.

Many thanks to VCCA for supporting and accompanying me throughout this journey of almost one year, and in the future.

Translated by Hanoi Grapevine


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