The exhibition V.I.E... with more than 35 artworks on display at A2Z Art Gallery, Saint-Germain des Prés, Paris, curated by Lê Thiên Bảo, depicts part of the ongoing art scene in Vietnam in this decade. Most of the works borrow the shape of familiar still-lifes to anchor the history flow. The exhibition space is arranged with the intimacy of a house, where artistic work coexists with everyday life.
In French, "vie" means life/to live. In Vietnamese users' computers, VIE is a keyboard typing mode created to integrate 29 Latin letters and 6 different tones in this language. Vietnamese language, like Vietnamese art, is a mixture of cultures from China, Champa, France and America.
After nearly two decades since the US normalised relations with Vietnam in 1995, along with the development of the internet, Vietnamese contemporary art has massively embraced the world's radical theories and ideas. Having been recruited for the mission of political propaganda in wartime, artists are now inadvertently further manipulated by expectations from foreign institutions and funds.
Having gone through many stages of adaptation, learning, and adjustment, the artists in this exhibition are now at the peaks of their careers, stable and confident in their own skins. These artists no longer struggle to fit themselves in 'decolonization,' 'desacralization’ or 'dematerialization' movements, in conformation with expectations of Western professionals for art that is born out of colonisation and war, like Vietnam.
Bùi Công Khánh piles his concerns on society into Bat Trang ceramic glaze; Lê Thúy, Nguyễn Thị Châu Giang cherish the circle of life and human condition on silk paintings; Nguyễn Thúy Hằng exposes personal obsessions with fictional stories, narrated in oil on canvas; Oanh Phi Phi, Hoàng Thanh Vĩnh Phong, explore and experiment with new possibilities of lacquer; Richard Streitmatter-Tran continues to "perform" with the human body, through honing his portrait drawing skills; Võ Trân Châu re-imagines and patches up memories of Indochina's history on "mosaic" panels recycled from rags.
V.I.E… celebrates the artist’s journey to achieve a masterful synthesis of artistic concept, traditional techniques and connection to local life. This exhibit is also the beginning of long-term cooperation and commitment between A2Z Art Gallery and Vietnamese art in the future.
Curator : Lê Thiên-Bảo