arts • 23 Mar, 2017
Art For You @ Mai’s Gallery
In Conversation With Co-founder Dorian Gibb
Just over a year since ‘Art for You’ made its Saigon debut, the collaboration between Hanoi’s Manzi Art Space and Work Room Four has grown. Still a place to buy affordable art and discover new treasures, the collection of sketches, photographs, illustrations, sculptures and paintings by over 150 local and foreign artists is on until March 27 at Mai’s Gallery, inside the soon to be no more 3A Station.
AnyArena chatted with one of the ‘Art for You’ co-founders Dorian Gibb about what it all means to him, the curation process and the role of art in our lives.
What does Art For You mean to you?
It’s about meeting Bill & Tram from Manzi and finding nice connections with relaxed, unpretentious people with a focus on the importance of arts as both social commentary and dialogue. Art For You is somewhere to just kinda lose yourself, and escape reality. It’s also about sharing ideas without being judged, having freedom of thought & expression, and being able to do that with a bottle of wine and have a nice evening.
Can you explain the curation of Art For You?
Originality and technique are obviously important. One of the things I believe is true of artists is how seriously they take their work in terms of attention to detail, having a clear passion for expressing something, and trying to maintain an integrity and be true to themselves. We do try to have a diversity of genres, mediums, and style as part of our selection process.
Is there any artist you recommend AnyArena readers look out for at the show?
I can’t answer because the principle of Art For You is that it’s an open platform. But I hope when people come to the show, they will find pieces that they love, and also find those that they don’t love. Hopefully they also find some pieces that they absolutely hate. That’s also exciting!
What can you see by looking at artists and their works presented at Art For You over the years?
I’ve seen an improvement of quality and execution. In terms of topic or subject matter, understandably there’s been a lot of social commentary and political dialogue in Vietnamese art given the history of the country. That’s becoming less and less prevalent as I now see a move towards a more poetic and existential narrative, maybe a more pure form of art, without necessarily having a political agenda.
Has the crowd coming to Art For You changed with each edition?
One of the things I particularly like is that there are more and more students or young Vietnamese who come to look at the show, not just the kind of cool kids. Some of them are more academic, who may go to university and appreciate that there’s a certain science to art, in a way. I think the more diverse the knowledge you have in understanding an experience, the better equipped you are to enjoy who you are in life.
What’s the role of art nowadays in our lives? Why should we invest in it?
Art is a universal language. It does not judge, nor have prejudice. It’s a platform for anyone to find the expression of identity, and it’s non-violent, mostly.
Is there one particular artist who has had a huge impact on your life?
I love Egon Schiele and Gustave Klimt. I remember seeing my first Mondrian, and being blown away by that. Also the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern in London, which is an experience in itself.
Whose artwork would you save if our planet come to an end?
Mine. Because it’s the documentary of my life, my diary, my journal.
How do you see Art For You’s future?
I’d like it to have a future, that would be cool. A lot of people think because they didn’t study fine art, stopped painting when they were 13, or haven’t read any books about art, that they can’t enjoy or engage with it. I fundamentally disagree with that. People can sometimes be a bit weary of Westerners coming in and being involved in the art scene, in case we’re looking to manipulate or make money or extort from the art scene. And now, obviously working with Manzi, I think we have proved the integrity of what we do. We genuinely want to give back to the artists, to create a platform where both amateurs and professionals have the opportunity to show their work. So I’d like to create a legacy. Maybe we won’t be in Vietnam forever, we hope to pass this on to someone else, and continue making art more accessible.
Thank you for sharing.
'Art for You' is on until March 27 @ Mai’s Gallery, Station 3A, Ton Duc Thang, D1, HCMC. Entrance is Free.
Intro by jonaspin Interview by Quyen Hoang
Photos by Tuan Tran, Huy Do