Do Thi Tham
Artists representing Vietnam’s contemporary fine arts regularly attend international art events like art fairs, biennales, and triennales
In recent decades, periodic international activities for those engaged in visual arts, such as annual art fairs, biennales and triennales (events held every two and three years, respectively), are no longer foreign to Vietnam’s arts circle or the public. Vietnamese artists often participate in these events. Curators (those who give advice on the organization of artistic events, and design exhibitions based on themes such as creators, artworks, trends, and history, etc.), together with art galleries and art collectors, have significantly contributed to taking the creations of Vietnamese artists to the international, professional playground.
The role of curators like Tran Luong and Nguyen Nhu Huy is undeniable. With their expert eyes, they have chosen and recommended Vietnamese artists to quite a few international artistic biennales and triennales. Since 2006, many outstanding Vietnamese artists have taken part in such events, including Le Quang Dinh, Nguyen Manh Hung, Tiffany Chung, Truong Tan, Nguyen Quang Huy, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Uu Dam Nguyen, and Nguyen Truong Linh, to name a few. The visual arts featured in biennales are mainly paintings, statues, graphics, video art, experimental films, performances, photos, installations, art projects that require the audience to get involved, and community development art projects, along with discussions and debates. This is really the ideal environment for artists to showcase works with lofty ideals, and those concerning hot topics and contemporary issues. With a focus on new artworks and undiscovered artists, such events open up many opportunities for young artists and help struggling artists to make their presence felt. From here, they are given a stepping stone to make it into museums and major art collections.
In more commercial playgrounds, particularly the Affordable Art Fair (an event where contemporary artists’ paintings in multiple styles and genres are available for low prices), the paintings of Vietnamese artists go on display via representative galleries. Hanoi Studio deserves credit for regularly presenting Vietnamese contemporary art at these events. It began doing so very early, as of 2008 at the Affordable Art Fair New York, and the Affordable Art Fair Singapore. On the Southeast Asian stage, galleries such as Mai, Ngan Pho and Zen have regularly participated in the Affordable Art Fair Singapore and the Art Expo Malaysia, since 2009. In the near future, at the Affordable Art Fair London 2019, Hathor Art Gallery will introduce three young artists selected from 185 candidates. Recent art fairs focus on introducing younger artists born in the 1980s and ’90s. Most lately, the KAFA International Art Fair 2018 (South Korea) was attended by two young Vietnamese artists, Le Thanh Tung and Nguyen Minh Quan (both 29 years old), with Le Thanh Tung also serving as a curator for the event. Tung graduated with a master’s degree in oil painting from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China, and has represented Vietnam at many international exhibitions, including Experiencing China (China), and the Silk Road International Arts Festival (Xi’an, China).
Thanks to the force of young artists who are increasingly dynamic, and artistic environments that keep expanding, Vietnam’s contemporary arts will hopefully have many new opportunities for development.