The second half of our two part series where Oi features local galleries and the homegrown artists they are helping to nurture
Images by Quinn Ryan Mattingly
65 De Tham, D1; Level 2, 151/3 Dong Khoi, D1;
Quynh Pham, Director
I’ve noticed that the industry is dominated by mostly men, why is that?
QP: The art business is like most other businesses where men hold great power. However, in Vietnam, the first important contemporary art space in Saigon was run by Tran Thi Huynh Nga and in Hanoi by Natasha Kraevskaia.
What does curating an exhibition entail?
QP: A lot of people may think that putting on an exhibition is simply hanging the work but in fact a huge amount of effort goes into it. When I curate a show, what is most important is working closely with the artist(s) to decide which works are good enough to show and rejecting works that are below par or don’t really fit or illustrate a particular concept the artist wants to address. Then it is a question of deciding on the best placement for the pieces given the space limits so that the exhibition is cohesive and makes sense. You want to give the works space to live by themselves so often we will end up not showing a number of initially selected works rather than overcrowd the walls. These works are then kept in our climate-controlled storage so they can be pulled out and shown upon request. With all shows, marketing and promotion is important. A press release and essays on the work are written by respected critics, curators, academics or other art professionals and distributed through our local and international networks which include collectors, curators, museums, academic publications, art and design publications and such. All the works need to be professionally photographed for promotional and archival purposes. Sometimes a bilingual publication will be realized as well. We also try to organize artist talks to accompany our exhibitions as we feel it is important to make the work we present accessible to the community, especially here in Vietnam where there is very little infrastructure to support the arts.
Where do you go online or in HCMC for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world both here and abroad?
QP: San Art, Vietnam’s most active non-profit art space has a great reading room. The artist and lecturer Rich Streitmatter-Tran also has an extensive library of art resources at his studio and residency space dia/projects in District 7. I get a lot of information on new art and shows online as well as through travel and trade shows. I love e-flux.com which basically highlights some of the most interesting art events/news around the world. I also read the usual glossy, established magazines like Frieze, Art Forum, Art Asia Pacific as well as various
blogs. I check out the online journal Guernica from time to time.
The Artist: Nguyen Manh Hung
Raised and educated in Hanoi, Hung’s practice reflects the comical situations arising from the rapid yet fragmentary processes of urbanization and modernization. As the son of a fighter jet pilot, his work often betrays an overriding preoccupation with militaristic images. Hung draws on the personal in his paintings of aircraft and ground vehicles, depicting military planes laden down with oversized grocery items or else soaring across the sky with bushels from the rice harvest.
What has been the standout moment of your career so far?
NMH: The opportunity to show my work at APT7 at Queensland Art Gallery recently.
What motivates you to create?
NMH: The conflicts between people in this society inspired me on every idea of my works.
You paint, create large-scale installations, and make experimental music. Of the three, which is your favorite medium and why?
NMH: The making of installations inspires me every time. I prefer to do it because it brings to the audience and artist the feeling of living together with this object in the same environment. Paintings are not accessible for people to be inside the space itself.
NMH: No, I don’t think it has changed. I think it has developed together with other elements such as media, materials, etc.