As one of the leading, important art galleries in the city, Oi asks Galerie Quynh to highlight works of three emerging artists they represent. Tran Duy Hung’s profile of the artists and their work are done with a keen, expert eye that allows us to better connect with the art.
Galerie Quynh (118 Nguyen Van Thu, D1; www.galeriequynh.com) has been promoting contemporary art practice in the country for two decades. Whether growing rice in the gallery, installing a giant boat-shaped vessel comprised of only salt crystals, or transforming the exhibition room into a glowing red box occupied by sleeping individuals in full public view, the programming at Galerie Quynh is unlike any you would normally find in a commercial gallery in Vietnam. The gallery is known internationally for its consistently focused programming and educational initiatives. Working with a select group of emerging, mid-career and established Vietnamese artists, the gallery also exhibits the work of distinguished artists from around the world.
In keeping with its mission to develop a sustainable ecosystem for the arts in Vietnam, the gallery collaborates with artists, curators, museums and art spaces locally and internationally to organize talks and lectures as well as to produce publications in English and Vietnamese. In May 2014 the gallery founded the non-profit educational initiative Sao La. Spearheaded by Ho Chi Minh City-based artists Nguyen Kim To Lan and Nguyen Duc Dat, Sao La currently comprises a young, diverse group of passionate creatives working loosely as a collective.
A new chapter began in December 2017 when the gallery moved to a 600sqm space in Dakao, District 1. Spread over four floors, the gallery will be able to produce more ambitious programming and play an even more vital role in the cultural community.
Feel the Force
A force in the Vietnamese art scene, Quynh Pham is the founder and director of Galerie Quynh. She was born in Danang but left the country at the end of the American War. Raised in California, Quynh studied Art History/Criticism at the University of California, San Diego. She has worked in the arts for over 25 years with experience in galleries and museums including the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (MCASD).
Quynh has spoken on contemporary Vietnamese art to groups from institutions such as the Asia Society (New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston). She has given talks to various international organizations and diverse business and school groups. She has also participated in symposiums hosted by institutions such as The Huntington Beach Art Center in California, TheatreWorks in Singapore and Osaka University in Japan.
Le Hoang Bich Phuong
Primarily working with the medium of Vietnamese silk painting, but at the same time experimenting with similar traditions from around Asia and taking influences from modern phenomena such as Japanese manga, Le Hoang Bich Phuong’s works (paintings, sculptures and installations) do not lend themselves to easy categorization—especially regarding time and place of origin—or straightforward reading. Forgoing dark connotations and hidden imageries often of human sexual organs that once populated her paintings, Le’s recent work has more of a life-affirming outlook, inspired by a search for selftranscendence. Born in 1984 in Ho Chi Minh City, Le is one of the most promising artists of her generation. She graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Arts in 2010 and has since held five solo exhibitions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In 2011, Le was one of the finalists of the DOGMA Prize in Self-Portraiture and also participated in S-AIR, an artist-in-residence program in Sapporo (Japan), hosted by the Japan Foundation. She has also received grants from the Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (Embassy of Denmark in Vietnam) and the Japan Foundation Vietnam. Le currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.
Le Hoang Bich Phuong – Portrait of a man – 2017 – watercolor on silk – 80 x 80 cm
Le Hoang Bich Phuong – Peony in garden – 2013 – watercolor on silk – 65 x 65 cm
Hoang Nam Viet
Hoang Nam Viet paints the friends around him and does so with an affection that only comes with tender familiarity. Hoang’s works often put his characters in surreal settings and situations. In the earth-toned paintings, one might start sensing an undercurrent of darkness. Here and there, curious gestures and odd, dream-like details conjure up a strange air of melancholy and begin to suggest that not everything is in its right place in the mundane surroundings.
What first appear as portraits of loved ones are in fact laced with subtle symbolic meanings. They deliver broader social messages, as well as contemplations on the nature of freedom. There might be a moving defiance and quiet determination to these youngsters, who are not without curiosity and dreams of change; and yet, faced with forces of the status quo, are they still too naked, ultimately powerless? Newer portraits depict figures front and central, though appearing no less dreamlike. The lines separating them from their surroundings are hazy. The paintings are basked in swaths of blue and gold— referred to by Hoang as “the colors of a shattered summer.”
A self-taught artist, Hoang has honed his practice across various disciplines. He has participated in comic book workshops, worked in advertising and even founded a café, which has become a popular gathering spot for the local intelligentsia. Called Hoang Thi, the café was also the venue for his first solo exhibition Cuffed in Freedom. Hoang has participated in several group exhibitions in Ho Chi Minh City including Chung (Pongdang Gallery, 2014), Out of Nowhere (Sao La, 2014), Art Walk (numerous venues, 2015), The Primacy of Drawing (Dia Projects, 2015), NGUCHONOBAY (Galerie Quynh, 2017). Hoang was part of the duo show Hopscotch with Do Thanh Lang at Galerie Quynh in 2016. Hoang is based in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hoang Nam Viet – NX – 2017 – oil on canvas – 45.5 x 35.5 cm
Hoang Nam Viet – Hoang Ha 3 – 2018 – oil on canvas – 30.5 x 30.5 cm
Hoang Nam Viet – Does it hurt when you bite yourself? – 2016 – oil on canvas – 100 x 70cm
Hoang Nam Viet – Hoang Ha 3 – 2018 – oil on canvas – 30.5 x 30.5 cm
Do Thanh Lang
The situations and actions depicted range from being unsettling to downright grotesque—their significance not immediately obvious. In one work, bodily fluid floods out from a man’s lower half, as a gun appears to be pointed at a scantilyclad woman. A bubbling tension can be clearly felt, while the use of polypropylene paper and a top layer of glaring plastic convey a crude physicality to the work adding to the intrigue and urgency of the scenes. There is always an ambiguity at play throughout Do’s work, which openly invites viewers to weave individualities into these psychedelic backdrops, at the same time hints at the inevitability of universal history repeating itself.
Do’s new paintings are a continuation of the aesthetics and themes in his previous work but are visually more quirky and minimal. Not without humor—of a black, bitter kind—the works center around fragments of images and stories churned out by the gigantic machine that is Vietnamese online media. Just as one’s disposed garbage can speak volumes about how one lives, these images—likened by Do to ‘virtual trash’—remind us that apathy is one of the world’s gravest dangers.
Born in 1986 in Ho Chi Minh City, Do studied painting at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University. His work has been shown in a number of group exhibitions in Vietnam such as Modern Wind, HCMC Fine Arts Association; My Eldest Sister, San Art; Fall, Café Tram; Out of Nowhere, Sao La; Art Walk, numerous venues in HCMC; and Hopscotch and NGUCHONOBAY, Galerie Quynh. Do has also participated in Spot Art Singapore 2014 (ARTrium @ MCI, Singapore) and undertaken the residency program Brown Movement at Heritage Space in Hanoi. Do lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.
Do Thanh Lang – Untitled – 2017 – acrylic, oil and glass paint on wood – 40 x 60 cm
Do Thanh Lang – Untitled – 2016 – oil and acrylic on canvas and transparent plastic sheet – 110 x 110 cm
Artists’ Profiles by Tran Duy Hung
Images Courtesy of the Artists and Galerie Quynh
Feature image – Do Thanh Lang – Untitled – 2017 – acrylic, oil, and glass paint on wood – 40 x 60 cm