It’s a small world

It is often said that the best things come in small packages so, with this in mind, VinGallery hosts its third annual Small Things (VinGallery, 6 Le Van Mien, D2) art collection. All the works displayed are USD500 or less and 50x50cm or smaller, and have been produced by 22 Saigon-based international artists in a range of mediums.

Coming just in time for the Christmas period, Small Things is a great way to support Saigon’s buzzing local art scene and get your hands on exclusive artwork. As you walk into the gallery, you are immediately greeted by contrast, as monochrome lacquer work hang alongside vibrant explosions of acrylic paint and pastel-shaded prints. “Chiaroscuro” is the term used in the artistic community to describe the contrast between light and dark and, at a small stretch, is a fitting description of the collection as a whole, where the bright and playful is contrasted by the cool noir of black and white photography. The term can certainly be applied to a series of three portraits by English artist Will Whitehouse, who has worked with oil on tile to give a haunting impression of a shadowed man, replete with intriguing brushwork and a veiled gaze.

Jurgen Buhre, a German artist, has contributed three one-off pieces for the exhibition. His work is acrylic on canvas and is richly textured, creating abstract, modern images that always leave the eye finding something new. Alongside this sits the work of young Vietnamese artist Dinh Con Tang, whose pieces show all the energy and vibrancy of the contemporary local art scene. A professional illustrator who also works on the Saigon Art Book project (a biannual publication that celebrates the work of young local artists), Tang brings to life a stylistic celebration of the stilt villages that line the banks of the Saigon River. Another young Vietnamese artist is Thuy Duong, whose abstract work in acrylic is a joyful celebration of color and form.

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Next to this sits a collection of etchings, by Tom Robinson, that appear to show images from a microscope slide. However, the images were actually produced by allowing the etching plate to slowly degrade in an acid bath used in the etching process. The results are both organic and scientific, and the collection of around 30 plates is fascinating, giving the impression of water, the inside of a cell, flowing hair, and all manner of intangible images.

More recognizably, Saigon’s skyline is lovingly captured by one of the gallery’s resident artists, Jim Cowan. The use of light and focus is truly remarkable in these images, which at first glance suggest that they must have been heavily edited. Jim, however, has simply captured all of the intricacies of Saigon at sunrise in two images emblematic of the particularly enchanting nature of the city. The collection also hosts work by Bridget March, who has produced limited edition prints of two of her most popular paintings, one of Sapa’s cascading rice paddies, the other a bustling street scene. Printed in England on quality cotton paper and guaranteed by the Fine Arts Guild, all the rich colors of Bridget’s illustrations are vividly reproduced to best celebrate the vivacity of Vietnam.

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In addition to the work produced specially for the show, VinGallery also has a range of posters, small books, prints, postcards, and some small ceramic pieces, all of which are available for purchase. Small Things runs until January 16, and the collection will evolve as works are purchased, so get there early before you miss out on a masterpiece.

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