A Visual HistoryArt Tour Paints Vivid Picture of Vietnam
Sophie Hughes. Photo: Frances Marden
You don’t need to be a history buff to know that Vietnam had a pretty tumultuous twentieth century. This compelling tale, however, tends to be told via the means of books, movies, museums and intergeneration hand me down. That’s why a new recently launched tour of Ho Chi Minh City that looks at Vietnam through the eyes of its artists opens a previously underused window on the country and its southern hub in particular.
Devised by English émigré Sophie Hughes – whose previous work in the arts include time as a curator both in the UK and here in Vietnam as the driving force behind bringing the global Future Shorts short films initiative to South East Asia - Sophie’s Art Tour was launched earlier this year and has already garnered great interest from those interested in investigating Vietnam from an alternative angle.
Sophie standing in front of artwork by Le Lam at Frontline Gallery. Photo: Frances Marden
While the artwork itself is the star of the show, the tour is peppered with snippets of context and background. “It’s meant to be an introduction not a comprehensive guide,” says Hughes of the tour. “If people want to find out more about Vietnamese art and the artists then they can come back to all these venues to explore at a more leisurely pace. The response I’ve had to the tour so far has been exceptional. Learning about history on its own can be a little dry so I think that people appreciate the addition of an artistic slant.”
Was it difficult for you to put all the pieces together?
The tour incorporates many different periods and different styles of Vietnamese art. Do you have a particular favourite?
The works at Frontline Gallery run by Richard San Marzano are fascinating. They are by artists such as Le Lam and Pham Thanh Tam who were on the battlefields and in the jungle alongside the soldiers in both Indochina Wars and they are personal accounts of their experiences.
The tour takes us all the way up to the present and Vietnamese contemporary art. How do you feel that the art scene is evolving here in Saigon?
San Art has a residency program for young Vietnamese artists which serves as a platform for up&coming artists to showcase their work, Galerie Quynh runs an emerging artists program and A Little Blah Blah run a yearly project but there is always a need for more spaces.
The Walker Group Exhibition @ @ HCMC Fine Arts Museum. Featuring artists Nguyễn Kim Tố Lan, Lý Trần Quỳnh Giang, Nguyễn Thúy Hằng, Vũ Khánh Vân and Lê Hiền Minh in front of 'The Place Where They Come' by Lý Trần Quỳnh Giang