Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – A handmade lacquer work from Viet Nam will go under the hammer at Christie’s in London today.
It is the first time that the creativity and workmanship of Vietnamese craftsmen and craftswomen is highlighted by the well-known international auction house.
Titled Borderline, the exclusive item is a collaborative work between Paris-based Vietnamese actress and designer Trần Nữ Yên Khê, and the Vietnamese haute lacquer house Hanoia. While the sketch was done by Khê, the craftsmen of Hanoia turned her drawing into a sophisticated work of art.
According to the designer, known more as an actress working closely with her husband, Vietnamese-French director Trần Anh Hùng, Borderline expresses the line between the past and the present, and between tradition and modernity.
Based on the shape of the Vietnamese traditional conical hat, nón, it has a functional value as a tray, but it is also an example of traditional culture expressed through contemporary design.
On the conical form runs a brilliant vegetal pattern in perfect harmony with a lacquered background of the drawing of a barbed wire fence inlaid by gold leaf made at Kiêu Kỵ Village on the outskirts of Hà Nội.
The designer said that the idea for the decorative pattern came from the flowery bushes that grow around barbed wire fences, something she saw in many rural places across Việt Nam.
The wire is also a symbolic image evoking a hot topic in today’s world – immigration. The bold colours of red and orange not only evoke the image of Buddhist pagodas, they also present the activeness of contemporary Vietnamese society.
One of artisans joining the project, the Head of Research and Product Development Department at Hanoia, Thẩm Văn Sỹ, said: “It was challenging, interesting and exciting to work together with such a famous figure.”
To turn her ideas into technical sketches, Sỹ had to talk with her everyday via Skype, with the support of her husband as interpreter, because the designer-actress is not completely fluent in spoken Vietnamese.
Apart from the sophisticated making process, the one-off piece, which took three months to complete, also required other important techniques, of which was the conjunction between the upper and lower parts.
“The story behind is always much more complicated than whatever you see. It’s not easy to join two separate parts – an up-side-down conical-shaped piece with a round pedestal – without affecting its original structure while still maintaining the balance. We had to devote a lot of our mind and time for just this one step,” he said.
Together with 15 other handcraft items from China, Japan and India, Borderline will be go under hammer at the starting price of 2,000 pounds. This auction will be live and clients can bid online at http://bit.ly/2hC9L6h
Hanoia CEO Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Thanh said proceeds from the auction of Borderline will be used to launch a contest for young Vietnamese designers.
She also said after this collaborative work with Yên Khê, Hanoia will continue to work with other famous Vietnamese and international artists to create other exclusive, unique designs.
“Although Vietnamese handcraft products are abundant, they are not competitive because they don’t have attractive designs,” she said.
Yên Khê was only one year old when her family left Việt Nam in 1974 and migrated to France. She grew up in Paris. After her high school graduation, she spent one year at the “Ecole du Louvre”, followed by a degree in design and interior architecture at the Camondo school in Paris. She also took dramatic art classes. Filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng, who was looking for an actress for his short film graduates, found her in this class. After starring in Hùng’s first film, she has worked with him on all his projects.
She is best known for her roles in her husband’s trilogy: Cyclo (1995), The Scent of Green Papaya (1993), and The Vertical Ray of Sun (2000). Hùng’s latest movie Eternity (2016), which stars Audrey Tautou, also features Khê’s voice as narrator. As Hùng’s partner and closest collaborator, Khê is also in charge of costume and set designs of all his films. – VNS