Vietnam is undoubtedly moving and changing – as rapidly as that. It’s a statement that we’ve all come across whether consciously or not. What’s a city worth without a contemporary art scene? Billions of dollars were invest in a ten-year development plan – Le Loi and Nguyen Hues nice road works were an example of this plan in action. Rating number 6 in a list of the world’s most dynamic cities, Ho Chi Minh City has fast become a fundamental economic pedestal of SE Asian stability. It is hard to believe this country was in the aftermath of war only 40 years ago – it can only be applaud! It’s a country of strength, pride, and resilience.
What’s a city worth without a contemporary art scene?
One sector was left a little behind. So, let me pause from my whooping and cheering to ask what’s a city worth without a contemporary art scene? In my opinion – nada!
Vietnam’s art history is rich and attractive. From the century-old Chinese influence in the form of ceramics and porcelain art to the French artistic influence in the 19th century. Despite the clout, there is always a proper dose of Vietnamese tradition. The “daily grind” is something that comes up often in Vietnamese artworks alongside cultural and religious beliefs. Often using a sensitive and romantic way of illustrating a dark history.
There was a surge of interest in the Vietnamese art markets in the early 90’s, and it has fluctuated since. The lure of quality artwork at reasonable prices was inviting to say the least! Although, people consider Hanoi as the breadwinner in the arts, and the South is slowly sneaking its way up there.
Unlike the undeniable wealth of Art Galleries selling ‘Van Gogh’’ and “Da Vinci’’ at bargain prices, there’s a somewhat modest number of contemporary spaces. The Saigon art scene is happening, but at the moment, it’s sitting somewhere around a subterranean level. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not going on.
Today there is a small but active group of contemporary galleries, curators, and artists fighting a seemingly uphill battle. San Art is an organization set up to promote and establish modern art in Vietnam through a series of exhibitions, talks, and educational programs. Being one of the first contemporary art spaces of its kind in Ho Chi Minh, San Art was a response to the limited supply of opportunities and resources for artists here.
Similarly, Gallery Quynh is seeking to publicize contemporary art practice in Vietnam to support arts infrastructure and education. The Gallery is on the scene for over a decade and has made it its sole purpose developing and supporting solely Vietnamese artists.
The lack of government investment alongside censorship rules makes it tough for a promising art movement to happen. Much like men and woman, every fascinating country has an exciting art scene behind it. The arts have the power to shape society; it’s a powerful tool for intercultural communication and has the capability of revitalizing a city even more so than it already is.
Sitting side by side with local artists, there’s an influx of international artists looking to enhance contemporary art here today. A factor that gallery and art space Vin Gallery is looking to support. Vin Gallery promotes artists from diverse cultural backgrounds working in a variety of mediums and brings them together in the universal language of art. There is a great emphasis on supporting the growth and development of local Vietnamese artists. We focus on promoting this aspect while simultaneously encouraging international art and artists to trust in Vietnam.
Art is well and truly alive in Vietnam. But it’s not yet kicking. It needs more backing off and not only from the government but also from the community. It can’t be left behind while the rest of the country is growing at such a pace. We should be welcoming contemporary art with open arms instead of pushing it off into the background.
What we can be sure of is that there is an energetic and exceptionally talented support network working together with one solitary goal – to put Vietnam on the art map.
Pics Vin Gallery