Within more than 3 months, 15 artists with more than 100 technical assistants and artisans of more than 10 studios scattered around the city of Hanoi, Thai Binh and Hue have been working days and nights to implement and accomplish new artworks, being designed specifically for the underground site of the Congress House. With groups of artwork being installed in the large space, the artists have covered over 500 meters long within three areas of the Congress House’s underground , from the narrow hallway to the large hallway leading to the parking space. The artworks’s medium were diversified from traditional lacquer to new styles of printmaking to multimedia installation, video art on silk, photographic reliefs, interactive bronze carving installation, blacksmith moving installation…. have changed completely the environment of the original Congress House underground space into an artistic environment of interactive Contemporary Art. Inspired by the diverse methods of contemporary art presentation, 15 artists of this project have used their own works as a way of communication and reflect their own creative perspective to the cultural, artistic and architectural Heritage throughout the history of our country. This space represents multiple ways of seeing Heritage through conceptual art within Contemporary Art practice would be an ideal connection between Thang Long artifacts museum and pre Thang Long underground of the Congress House. The interactive connection between the ancient space to Contemporary space will surely bring the viewers a completely different experience, like a journey to connect the inspiration from layers of glorious past history through the creative perspectives of our Contemporary artists today.
Nguyen The Son
From 1901 to 1911, it is the 10-year construction of the Opera House in Hanoi. Like many other architectural works at that time, the Opera House has contributed an important fragment to Hanoi’s urban memory. Over the centuries, the Opera House has become a symbol of art and culture of Hanoi. Although the architectural design was influenced largely by the model from the Garnier Opera House in Paris with other styles, Hanoi Opera House still has the French neoclassical outlook. It does not only plays a role as one of the important cultural centers, the Opera House is also a place bearing bold historical imprint, where has witnessed many times the historic turing points in the last century. Until now, the theater has received countless numbers of visiting people to wanderers who just pass by.
With the technique of photo relief that has been going on for many years on the subject of urban memory, I have tried to put up an artwork, which is also a great stage of life, of people who may have passed by or stopped in front of the theater for over 100 years.
Ngọ Môn gate is a symbol of the Hue Citadel, a feudal dynasty that lasted for 143 years. 1805 – 1832 was the period of nearly 30 years Hue Citadel that the citadel’s construction was done under King Gia Long and completed in 1933 under the period of King Minh Mang. Situated in a prime location on the north bank of the Perfume River and inspired by the famous Vauban architecture in France and Europe, the Hue Citadel is perhaps the largest construciton in Vietnamese history at the time with thousands of cubic meters of rock, with huge workload, trenches, river filling, tombs, embankments … lasted nearly 30 years under two dynasties.
Ngọ Gate (Tí Ngọ Gate) is the largest of the four main gates of the Hue Royal Citadel. The direction of the Ngọ Môn gate is to the south that is the direction for the kings, and the direction of light to hear the world and rule the world in a bright way. Ngọ Môn gate is also a place to witness many important events of history. In the past, the disciples were reserved for the king only, or used to welcome the ambassadors. This is also the place where the most important ceremonies of the Nguyen dynasty are held, such as the Ban Sóc ceremony (new calendar board), Truyền Lô (announcement of the people receiving Doctor degree). This is also the place witnessed the dissolution of King Bảo Đại, the last king of Vietnam
With the photo relief technique, I try to re-create the image of Ngọ Môn gate of Hue as a witness to the history who continue to write the story of whom comes from all over the places to find the capital of Hue to experience the beauty of a world heritage existing through time.
City Post Office – a “historic witness” that goes along with the years, the formation and development of Saigon, as well as being a typical architectural work of the city. From 1886 to 1891 it was designed and built by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel. This is indeed one of the oldest architectural works of Saigon, a three-centuries-old masterpiece with a romantic, harmonious blend of modern Western style combined with the layout of Eastern culture. In addition to the elegant and exquisite reliefs, the facade of the post office is also unique in engraving the names of the scientists who have contributed to human civilization in the field of electricity and telegraph. It is uncountable how many people came out to send the letter or make a phone call from here. The post office is like a symbol of connectivity which narrow the distance between people.
With the technique of photo relief, I tried to portray the architectural beauty of this historic building as well as describe the layers of people passing through time, which depicts the changes of the city of mankind throughout the flow of history.
Printing images and deposition Sitting in the car looking at the city, I wonder many beautiful citadel, castles of Ly , Tran Dynasties of a glorious time are now gone ? There are only old photographs and vestige buried underground . I wish there is a way to turn back the time to watch the Old Citadel while sitting on these modern cars. The images of dragons, clouds, lotuses and banyan tree leaves as well as ancient traditional decorative motifs would be shiny printed on the modern cars of today. The combination between cars and prosperous Ly Tran Dynasties ‘s special decorative motifs is to use the contrast to emphasize the traditional spirit , but never out of date. Because this is essence of the previous generation relate to the prosperity and the intelligence of the modern people today. With the desire of highlighting and harmonizing the traditional and modern values, i would like to connect the traditional essence and the modern culture of Viet people. Printing images and deposition is presented in the form of installation of our traditional distinctive decoration on the surface of modern cars.
According to the cultural history, Vietnamese Art has flowed in the South when the Nguyễn Lords moved here. This has been shown by the gradually shaped and developed cultural imprints of the progressive development of Nguyen. This has then continued to intertwine with other regions’ culture and enrich the richness of Vietnamese art to a greater extent.
In the form of a collection of works made by Trúc Chỉ art (paper and fiber art) in Vietnam combined with other art forms such as wood carving, lacquer painting, light art … the paintings have reproduced the system of decorative motifs of the Nguyễn Dynasty and the Lord Nguyễn through the stylized forms from familiar images such as flowers, clouds, water … which are the characteristics of Vietnam .
Along with the main material – Truc Chi, the work is also combined with wood pieces from the ancient houses in Hue. The pieces of wood after being collected, processed and applied the principles of woodcarving (Graphics), paint and abrasive (lacquer) to show the images inspired by the Nguyễn Dynasty’s artistics patterns. .
With a flexible combination of Trúc Chỉ, lacquer and the effect of lighting, the concept of “paper” is removed from the ground as a stand-alone material. Thanks to that, most of local materials such as straw, bamboo, sugarcane, banana, duck, leaf, grass etc can be utilized in the traditional paper-making process combined with traditional graphic techniques such as: intaglio, screen printing … to create a new term – Trucchigraphy
The nghê is a sacred animal with a rather complicated origin. According to some historical records, the nghê is a mythical creature, sacred lion, originating from Buddhism.
The nghê was brought to Việt Nam possibly in the 1st century AD by businessmen and Buddhist monks from India and Central Asia. The nghê was popular during the Lý reign (1009-1225). Over time, the nghê has been carved in diverse forms and materials, displaying various facial expressions and characteristics. It has appeared in various positions at the spiritual sites of the Vietnamese people.
With absolute freedom of size and creation, the sculptors created Nghê with various shapes and colors according to their own ideals. As a result, Nghê reached the peak of creation in the Vietnamese folk arts. As an invented sacred animal, Nghê is the combination of folk elements and imperial elements, of native arts and imported arts.
This shows that Nghê is a familiar sacred animal in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people and has contributed to creating the Vietnamese soul in Vietnamese traditional art. Nghê is an open and dynamic symbol in Vietnamese culture.
“Puzzles of the time” is the lacquer installation inspired by the the actual collection of artifact from Ly – Tran Dynasty at the Museum of Archeology at the basement of the Congress House. As the name suggested, the artwork was created by 240 “fragments”, as 240 lacquer paintings. Being displayed at the main hallway leading to the museum, this piece is like a beginning chapter for the cultural, historical story of our people.
The story began with the history of Thang Long spiritual land where King Ly Thai To who established Ly Dynasty, chose this place to be the Capital in 1010, opening a new historical era that created an important destiny of our nation.
Along the flow of Vietnamese history, Ly and Tran Dynasties were considered among two of the most prosperous times. During that time, handicrafts, economy, art, philosophy, spirituality reached the highest levels of development. Therefore, choosing the artifacts of these two dynasties into my work is to show the aspiration of aiming toward the continuous strength, the development of a nation, connecting to the cultural heritage that our ancestors left for us.
Based on the decorative details from Ly Tran Dynasties‘s artifacts, these lacquer paintings weaving into each other represents the appreciation and protection the cultural value, historical and traditional Art. At the same times, this piece is also presented with modern decorative motifs. I think it is not only showing the harmony of time, space, the connection between the past and the present but also affirming the heritage of our nation ‘s history and culture.
Using lacquer painting techniques, a traditional Vietnamese form of painting in order to create the decorative details, this work represents our nation’s pride.
Along with Red River, To River is a part of Thang Long- Ha Noi’s cultural traditional history. As a small branch of Red River, To River flows through the busy Thang Long city streets, then flowing in the curve form , covering the capital of Viet country. The River is very important traffic route in trading, it is a place of historical-cultural exchange such as architecture, festival, handicrafts villages, relics…of nearby capital land.
Nowadays, the river has become narrower and no longer clear or poetic as before. This work was created based on the curvy structure of the river, gathered by many modules made out of bronze, lacquer with the slightly curved surface resembling the water waves.
The viewers could touch and turn the module as if you are touching the river with a poetic beauty, the glory of the past where there used to be prosperous villages, busy festivals, boats coming and going. Who knows the magic of our wish to revive the river would come true when our hands touch the waves ? So that, we can hear the echo of the song:
The flowing To River is so clear
the white sailing boat is near and far
thin slim flaps with the flower
flips flop back and forth like butterflies
The miniature space is the story of Hanoi assembled by many fragmentation of of images from the past to the present. In these drawings, we see the Old Quarter of decades ago mixed with new Hanoi streets of apartment buildings, house facing the streets provoking the nostalgic feeling of the old memories. Within that chaos of dreamy Hanoi, hopefully the viewers could see a part of themselves in those details from the balcony to the vast of flowers by the window, from the rob of hanging clothes to the street food stand by the road or a city map of the city looking from high above.
This work is presented in the form of light boxes using Vietnamese Zdo paper and Japanese Washi paper, Ash wood, sumi ink drawings creating layers of images overlapped as 3 dimension space, in order to give the viewers a feeling as if they could physically walk in with their own eyes.
With this work I want to present the heritage gifts from the predecessor to the future generations which are young children and the students. Referring to the cultural heritage, it is without doubt mention the historical antiquities displayed in museums which can be appreciated as priceless gifts of the ancients. My work consists of three oil paintings. In my paintings, I used images of Lý antiques combined with Đông Hồ folk paintings. Replacing the images of chicken duck held by the children in the original Đông Hồ painting, I painted these children embracing the antique objects with beautiful ribbons which symbolises the presents gifted to them.
“Kinh Thien Palace” is the most important palace of the ancient royal citadel of Thang Long. This is the place to celebrate the important ritual of the country and to hold the great national seminars… Through the harshness of time , the palaces have vanished, only left the vestiges of the steps built in the Le So Dynasty. The banister was engraved on stone beautifully and gloriously. In the middle is the two majestic dragons with the two sides having decorative lanterns (the stylized lotus flower), water waves, clouds… which are the heavenly sky convergence on this staircase. The vicissitude of time and the world gives us tremendous emotions in front of the persistent cultural strength of the Vietnam. Using graphic engraving on light-emitting materials, under the negative, the work is not only just as effective as the printing but also like an X-ray film as well as the illusion of dreams. Please immerse into the royal night, to feel the splendor of the ancient dynasty prosperity.
The legend of Lac Long Quan and Au Co gave birth to one hundred eggs has inspired me to create my work using the traditional theme and the origin of our country . The top of each gold plated eggs resembles the fish scales structure, looks like waves in the sea under the moonlight. This connotes the meaning of the rice culture civilization, combined with the decorative motif structure through out different Dynasties, sending the most authenticity of the Viet culture, echoing the glorious past of our ancestors.
This piece is the collaboration between the artist and the artisans, from woodcarving, to cloth processing , lacquer board, to mother of pearl, eggshells, red pigment, gold and silver… is a good example for opening new direction for handicraft villages in the modern life today, as well as combining new creative presentations in order to diversify the language of fine art within the richness of Vietnamese lacquer painting.
In Vitra + is an incomplete completion, a pause to reflect on the achieved new technique which will not only inform future projects but shows the result of an intensely involved and varied journey of discovery. The works here are created as more a body of completed sketches – a documented archive of a perfected technique – than final artistic solutions. More than 1500 hours of trials allowed Quang to progress to this point, hours filled with the discovery of working with an alien medium – glass/stainless steel – and the knowledge gained to create these pieces. Quang has found himself bound by a new set of constraints, a familiar concept to printers: the size of the kiln in which to fire the work, the viscosity of the pigment used to print onto new surfaces, the searing temperatures and the fragility of the glass combined with the interaction of the glass with the printing press, and the unforgiving surface of the metal.
The good old wooden doors once omnipresent on Hanoi streets and alley are symbolic of a golden urban era. However, those old doors and their ingrained memories have been replaced by modern looking glass doors. I want to retain their impression by creating humble, unglamourous lacquer works. Perhaps one day we may only be able to see them through paintings?
The past – the reality – the future intertwine and transform into a reality that has an ungraspable form. Reality is being broken or being seamless which we are searching for like clouds unhurriedly wander.
Taking the idea of an upstream journey interacting with the path leading into the garage tunnel, the work uses steel plate material to shape the motifs of the ancient modes of transportation in the both Vietnamese physical and spiritual daily life.
Using the modern CNC cutting technology, the steel plates have been given souls to turn into chariots, elephants, and dragon along with the images of phoenix and boat taken from the Buddhist scriptures or images carved on the temples and pagodas from the Lê and Mạc Dynasty … The wheels attached with the iron-cutting images like horse carriage, dragon boat and clouds are designed in motion. This will lead the viewer to an interactive space that reverses the history of vehicles.