Viet Nam News
A newly-launched artbook entitled 5 Mùa (Five Seasons) features more than 100 paintings selected from entries to an online painting contest held recently by the Kim Đồng Publishing House. Contest organisers receive nearly 490 paintings from 296 artists, including amateurs and professionals in Việt Nam and from abroad.
The artists were asked to use their creative abilities to paint unique works based on a variety of poems and lines of poetry. The 12 judged to be the best paintings were auctioned at the book launch ceremony at the end of last month raising funds for charity.
Artist Khoa Lê, one of the contest jurors and organisers, speaks about the contest and potential of the artbook.
Online contests are rare in Việt Nam. How are they different?
More young people enter such contests because online work is typical of illustrations in the digital age. It also suits young people who are used to communicating on line.
Young artists benefit from online work. They can concentrate without disturbance. They can work any time they want and update and share techniques. One thing I can say is that when the artist works online, he/she can expand their connections and working environment. Many young Vietnamese artists work this way not only with domestic publications but also with regional and international ones.
As a result, the organisers decided to hold the contest online over three months. The results prove we made the right decision. We received dozens of works, including highly qualified ones.
As one of the jurors, could you say something about the works themselves?
We were worried when we selected the poems for illustration. The selected poems and poetry paragraphs included ancient literary works by Nguyễn Du, Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, masters Xuân Diệu, Huy Cận and Xuân Quỳnh and some names of younger poets.
However, when we saw the paintings, we stopped worrying. Their sense of the poems was good. Their creativity surprised us.
As the contest organiser I’m very glad because in additional to response from professional artists, we saw many new, promising talents. One of winning artists is a genius. His work is great. It was very interesting for the jurors.
Who do you think will be interested in the artbook ?
The value of aesthetics is always honoured. If an older person knows the poetry in the artbook by heart he might be interested in seeing them illustrated. And I hope young readers will understand the poems in greater depth through the illustrations.
I work at the Kim Đồng Publishing House on materials targeting children. I believe it is a good artbook for young readers to buy and put in their collection.
Kim Đồng is among the leading artbook publishers. In your opinion, what is more challenging for artists - a poetry art book or a book of illustrated stories?
Illustrating for poems requires profound understanding and sense about the work. The illustrations will not explain the content and significance but they will inspire the reader. The artists will feel free to express the poems in their own way. Meanwhile illustrating a story needs accuracy of the story content and clarifies meaning of the literature work.
Do you think art books have a market in Việt Nam?
The market will develop. The book market in Việt Nam is developing rapidly in recent years. At present, there are more young people in urban areas who collect unique books. Many people complain that artistic books are expensive. But artbook prices are reasonable compared to the price of tickets to other cultural performances and concerts. In addition, artbooks become more valuable with age.
I think the most important element for compiling an artbook is financial resources. At present, crowdfunding is a good way for book publishing in general, and art books, in particular. — VNS