The former president of the Viet Nam Fine Arts Association's Arts Council, Le Huy Tiep, spoke to Culture Vulture about the development of graphic arts in Viet Nam on the sidelines of the recent ASEAN Graphic Arts Competition and Exhibition in Ha Noi.
What is the state of development of graphic arts in Viet Nam?
Graphic arts have only really developed here in the last ten years, and we still often lack modern equipment and technology for this art form.
Only this decade were we equipped with more modern equipment thanks to the help of David Thomas, the president of Boston Printmakers in the US and the director of the Indochina Art Partnership since 1995.
He offered printmaking tools and materials to arts schools in such major cities as HCM City, Hue, and Ha Noi, as well as to the Contemporary Fine Arts Centre of the Viet Nam Fine Arts Association. He also invited several American graphic artists to hold workshops for Vietnamese artists.
What should the country do to boost the field of graphic arts?
I think the most important thing is to give the public a greater understanding of the value of graphic art techniques, including printmaking. Currently, this kind of art isn't appreciated or viewed seriously here. I know quite a few artists in Viet Nam who specialised in printmaking and even studied abroad to improve their talent but who had to quit this form and take up oil paintings, which are easier to sell.
We also still need proper equipment. In Viet Nam, students can learn the art of printmaking in most arts colleges but not all schools are fully equipped with good printers and materials for this art form.
But I still have high hopes for the future of this art in Viet Nam because we have talented artists who are full of passion. The quality of the work they produce is quite good, although most Vietnamese artists still focus on eliciting emotions from audiences through their works and don't pay enough attention to technique, which is a shortcoming.
Viet Nam won nearly as many prizes as Thailand in the recent ASEAN competition, and Thailand is seen as the most developed country for graphic arts in the region.
Thai graphic arts are not only known in the region but also around the world.
The National University of Arts in Thailand was founded by an Italian painter who paid a great deal of attention to the development of the language of printmaking, and Thailand is home to several enterprises which manufacture professional printing machines. — VNS