The Ha Noi Open Exhibition, which Work Room Four Studio organised, has proven to be one of the main attractions in the capital city's art life this month.
The event, the second of its kind so far, has attracted nearly 80 domestic and foreign artists. Culture Vulture had a chat about the event with Claire Driscoll and Dorian Gibb, two artists from the United Kingdom who own the studio.
Could you tell us more about this event?
This is the second Ha Noi Open Exhibition so far. The concept behind the show is based on the precedent which the Royal Academy of Art has set 245 years ago.
The Summer Exhibition is an open art exhibition which the Royal Academy organises in central London every year. When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, one of its key objectives was to establish an annual exhibition, open to all artists of merit, which could be visited by the public. The first Summer Exhibition took place in 1769 and has been held every year since, without exception. Today, around 1,000 works are selected each year from as many as 10,000 entries representing some 5,000 artists.
Our numbers are a little less than those quoted above, but with 122 works of art by 78 artists, we hope that we are creating a tradition that will one day share a similar number of birthdays as the Royal Academy's prestigious event. We have worked hard to make Work Room Four a viable space for sharing work and developing creativity.
This year, we have had the pleasure of a higher standard of work and none of the complications of Zone 9. There are several pieces that stand out for me. But this is my opinion, and I would suggest that we ask audiences to come and make up their own minds.
Seeing so much diverse work and witnessing innumerable hours of artists' hard work in one space is rare and should be enjoyed.
How did you select the artists? What are your criteria?
For practical reasons and content, we have to have some criteria. But they are as broad as we could make them to allow for a diverse exhibition. Art is a practice that people interpret in a vast array of ways.
This is part of its beauty and how and why each individual artist is – if they challenge themselves – authentic and valid in his or her approach and ideas.
There are more than 18 criteria, and we only took Painting along with Print, Mixed Media, Photography and Sculpture. Our space does not yet allow for installation or film work, for example, but we hope to change this next year.
Could you tell me more about Work Room Four studio and your projects and activities?
We have workshops and exhibitions, a design concept shop and events. We rent out studios to architects, as well as film makers, product designers, photographers and more. It is a genuinely creative and energised place where one can work with passionate and like-minded people.
We have a motto: "Create Something New". And from our studio on the 24th floor, we can see the Tam Dao and Ba Vi mountains and the Red River barges slowly passing by all day. It is an inspiring backdrop for creating art.
What is your opinion on Vietnamese modern art? Do you have any favourite Vietnamese artists? Why?
This is a difficult question, and we are asked about this a lot. We come from London and so, of course, we see huge differences here. However, the act of art, the idea of sharing your experience and feeling toward or from the world you inhabit, is constant.
Making the world a more passionate, inspiring and contemplative place through creating something new is, I believe, the same everywhere.
As for my favourite, in our professional position, we don't like to single out an individual. We work with many artists from many fields. There is work we love and work we do not. But I respect all artists who work tirelessly to realise their convictions.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of running your studio?
Our first studio was in Zone 9 and so, like everybody who was involved, we faced many challenges there. Our new space is very different – more contemporary, more sophisticated, more unique to Viet Nam and more expensive to run.
But we have a supportive landlord and exist among a large number of Vietnamese families who have shown us great kindness and affection. – VNS