Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Hundreds of art lovers attended the opening of an exhibition showcasing contemporary artworks by 18 Vietnamese and foreign artists on Tuesday night in Hà Nội.
Entitled Tỏa or The Foliage, the exhibition also marks the launch of the Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art (VCCA), sponsored by Việt Nam’ biggest real estate developer, VinGroup. The VCCA is locates within the 4,000sq.m basement of the group’s Royal City Shopping Mall.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, VinGroup deputy chairwoman Lê Mai Lan said: “Many people may wonder – an art centre located at a megamall. However, there is a message that we wish to spread: Art, especially contemporary art, not only resides at luxurious and glittering venues, but is present anywhere that it [art] can reflect the breath of life, which is an endless source for it.’
“Following that motto, the VCCA not only honours art values, but also is a place where anyone can access easily and enjoy art.”
Developed and financed by VinGroup, the non-profit centre aims to support artists as well as to bring contemporary art closer to the public in Việt Nam. It also helps improve cultural values and to promote the development of a stable and professional art market.
At The Foliage exhibition, visitors can join in an art project called Wish Tree by Yoko Ono.
Conceived sometime in the early 1980s after the assassination of John Lennon, Ono’s multi-site project Wish Tree consists of installations of any number of trees native to the sites. Visitors to the installations are invited to write their wishes on small pieces of paper – known as "wish-tags" – and hang them onto the tree branches. The wish-tags are collected by Ono, buried in capsules in and around her Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland, which emanates a skyward light for two months every year, starting on John Lennon’s birthday, ending on each anniversary of his passing. A monument to his memories and legacy, Wish Tree is a celebration of life, love and unity. To date, the project has visited 19 different cities around the world, with something close to 1 million wishes collected for the Imagine Peace Tower.
The Foliage – the first time the Wish Tree has been presented in Việt Nam – lộc vừng trees have been chosen for the installation. Indigenous to Việt Nam and other Southeast Asian countries, lộc vừng are most likely to be found in people’s houses and gardens, giving shade on sunny days, and also meant to bring good luck.
Alongside the Wish Tree, The Foliage also displays several artworks by other artists.
Houston-born Vietnamese artist Phi Phi Oanh presents the Mappa Mundi – a painting created from Vietnamese lacquer and pigments on wood panel. Shaped by its various dichotomies and inversions – between East and West, the archaic and the high-tech, the cosmic and the terrestrial – the Mappa Mundi is Oanh’s large-scale depiction of a satellite image of Earth, suspended from the ceiling so as to invoke a similar sense of wonder and illusion exuded by classical European mural paintings.
The installation Cuộc Sống Vườn Địa Đàng (Living Together in Paradise) by Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng consists of vertically-stacked miniature housing units, each a highly-detailed replica of those found in Soviet-era apartment buildings of Hà Nội – cramped, crowded living quarters, in one of which the artist spent the first 20 years of his life. Described by Hùng as having the features of an open "village complex", the lone, Babel-like structure takes on a romantic otherworldliness against the painted vista of clouds and azure skies, standing in stark contrast to the modern high-rise landscape dominating Việt Nam’s 21st century urban reality.
The sculpture Nguồn (Originarium) by An Giang southern province-born sculptor Bùi Hải Sơn is a giant kernel made of wood and copper and suspended in the air, floating above a verdant pasture. With its shape evoking the tale of Noah’s Ark, the sculpture takes on an added mythical layer, offering a graceful meditation on the wonders of the mundane.
The Foliage is open to the public until August 6. The VCCA is at B1-R3 Vincom Megamall, Royal City, Nguyễn Trãi Road, Thanh Xuân District, Hà Nội. — VNS