Opening: 01 June 2020, 05 pm
Exhibition: 01 June – 08 June 2020
Exhibition Centre of Fine Art and Photography
29 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
From the organizer:
The exhibition featuring works by eighteen artists: Trần Ngọc Anh, Trần Đình Bình, Chu Viết Cường, Nguyễn Tuấn Cường, Đặng Hiền, Đặng Khánh Hội, Phùng Huy, Đỗ Đức Khải, Nguyễn Trường Linh, Trần Tuấn Long, Phạm Ngọc Mỵ, Nguyễn Hải Nam, Nguyễn Tú Quyên, Nguyễn Thu Trang, Trần Phi Trường, Nguyễn Thục Uyên, Nguyễn Đức Việt và Ngô Hải Yến.
Son Ta in the Time of Corona
It seems a luxury to think of art in the time of pandemic, a privilege only the elite can afford. There is the uncertainty not only of the art market but also more pressing matters like everyday needs. However, humans, especially creatives, prove to be stubborn in this regard.
Even with the lack of material needs we are experiencing right now, we still want to live a worthwhile life with its simple pleasures – something artists produce. Vietnamese Son Ta Group is this voice of resilience and persistence. Amid the invisible spreading virus, they are putting something of importance back to the surface.
In the current art market, lacquer paintings that uphold Vietnam’s identity in the global visual arts scene has been indiscriminately commercialized. Easily accessible synthetic industrial paints are being used to achieve the taint of authentic lacquer. Vietnamese Son Ta Group was created back in 2013 to preserve the unadulterated use of traditional lacquer paints.
If there is something everyone is learning from this pandemic, it is to slow down. Our life has been too rapid – there are infinite movements here and there. Today, with our skies cleared from airplanes and our roads breathing afresh from vehicle traffic, our pace is allowing us to uncover values put aside by consumerism.
Vietnam is being praised globally for its response on the current health crisis. People are wondering how a poor country has managed to keep the infection rate so low and with zero death. Like the process of creating Son Ta painting, the secret to success might be the same – it is the value of connection. We are seeing how collectivism is outperforming capitalist individualism.
To keep a lasting value against a superficial one, Son Ta painting process must neglect instant and immediate routes and not go against the pace of time. Son Ta comes from an arduous process of gathering the milky sap of rubber trees best done around two o’clock to four o’clock in the morning to curing it by slowly stirring it for eight hours. This is just the initial stage, the rest of the process depends on the meticulous craftmanship of the artisans that produce the paint.
Looking after each other takes time, thinking of one’s own welfare alone is instantaneous. Yet it takes a whole community, not an individual saviour, to weather through this crisis. The process of making Son Ta and the response of the society of Vietnam towards the pandemic is reflective of each other.
The fifth group exhibition, 2020 edition, of the Vietnamese Son Ta Group is pushing through amid the pandemic. Albeit a luxury, it is an effort that will help us be reminded of what matters most in life – that no matter how fast we go we will never be in control. It matters to be in touch with our humble beginnings and the people around us, to care, to be authentic and not be boastful…. In these trying times, we look for meaning, for clarity, for assurance so we can look forward. The humble Son Ta will give us a perspective which may help keep us sane as we weather through the harsh time of Corona.
The Vietnamese Son Ta Group was founded in April 2013 by artist Nguyen Viet Duc. The aim was to use traditional lacquer paints. Around 50 lacquer painters participated in the first project. To come up with the first exhibit, the artists cooperated with the craft villages of Ha Thai and Chuyen My; and artisans of lacquer, and gold and silver anemone. The exhibit was ran by the management board Nguyen Truong Linh, Nguyen Duc Viet, and Do Duc Khai.
From the first exhibit, 30 works were chosen to be exhibited in Russia in 2014 for the Vietnam-Russia Culture Day. Among the artists who made it were: Nguyen Truong Linh, Do Duc Khai, Tran Tuan Long, Dang Khanh Hoi, and Nguyen Duc Viet.
The second exhibit was in 2015 – the most challenging one for the organizers because many members have left. This also marked a valuable feature as the theme became more open embracing many styles such as surrealistic, abstract, impressionistic….
The third exhibit in 2016 had the pleasure of being evaluated by the President of Vietnam Fine Arts Association, Tran Khanh Chuong. The fourth exhibit was in October 2018, named LAM. The painters pushed their limit by using ‘blue harmonies’ with Son Ta, a tricky technique for when the paint mixes with the lacquer, the original colors dissipate.
The upcoming exhibit on June 2020 marks the fifth collaboration of the artists in upholding the traditional visual arts medium of Vietnam. What boundaries have the artists pushed this time while keeping faithful to the traditional Son Ta?
Follow updates on event’s page