Artist Phạm Hồng began creating contemporary art in 2005. Her latest piece, entitled Sự Im Lặng (The Silence), was named as one of 14 finalists in the Dogma Award 2019 and was displayed last month in HCM City.
Reporter Việt Quỳnh, from Đại Đoàn Kết (Great Unity) newspaper speaks to Hồng about her career and passion for contemporary art.
How did you begin creating contemporary art?
I remember that independent artists and groups of experimental artists were becoming more common in 2005.
At the time, I was in college and was fortunate to participate in workshops with my friends and other artists.
At the beginning, I was an outsider because my major was in fashion design. However, I was excited.
I was interested because I could see contemporary art is a very new and varied concept with no limits or distance between works, artists, and the public.
There are many young people like me from different fields such as art, theatre, music and even journalism and foreign languages. This shows that contemporary art is no longer limited. Not only art students have the chance to experience it.
After the art workshops, I changed my mind and my point of view not only about art but also about studying fashion.
Do you remember the first work you did in 2005?
The first piece I did was two installations named Mẹ (Mother). I participated in a workshop with a German artist before I created the work.
The topic was about women, so the first thing I thought about was my mother. At that time my mother was the only one encouraging me to create art. I wanted to do something like a story about my mother.
I used a lot of furniture and household objects such as old irons and a pan which are probably the same age as me. My mother used them every day. My mother bought the pan when she got married and kept it until I grew up.
I used these objects to create the shape of my mother. It is the first artwork in my life, but I made it with all my emotions. Many of my friends said it was an emotional work.
I believe that art needs true feelings. The sentiment is not fake, and works made with the artist's emotions will allow the viewer to feel and appreciate it.
How did you experiment with contemporary art at that time?
I watched contemporary art develop. There are many artists working in the field and they are considered crazy. Many of them have made excellent works such as Trương Tân and Vũ Huy An.
I see contemporary art as a movement, both new and challenging. I am really impressed with the creativity of the artists not only in form, expression and material but also their ways of working, thinking and exploring are very profound and dedicated.
I find myself learning a lot from the artists. Through attending discussions and workshops as well as seeing art exhibitions my artistic thinking has changed.
Are you still creating pieces inspired by women?
Yes, I always think about the position of women in society.
I grew up in a family with three generations, in which women always had to do both housework and social work. So I see their role in the family as well as their sacrifices and their patience.
Most of my works are from personal stories or from women I have met. I aspire to be able to help the women in some ways either directly or indirectly.
I see the life of my grandmother and my mother, who sacrificed their whole lives for the family with the same acceptance. It's like being born a woman must be like that sacrificing becomes a mission.
Why do you usually use fabric in your art?
I use cloth because I studied fashion design and I know about this material and I can control it when making art works. Each type of cloth brings a different effect. Meticulously sitting to sew for me is both work and relaxation.
Many people say that female artists often choose to sew in their works. I think this is discriminatory. Artists choose which materials they find suitable and effective. Gender is irrelevant.
Many male artists choose cloth, cotton, or even flowers to make art. And there are also many female artists creating art with iron and steel.
I choose cloth because when I sit to sew it is like meditation. It is time for me to focus on my work, to think about many things in life. I love it.
What is your latest piece?
It is an installation titled The Silence presented to the public in August.
This work is about silence in modern society. We no longer spend a lot of time together, instead have different concerns that creates distance between people.
Silence invades life like a pathogen. It can destroy the affection, relationships and many of the good things that we have had. VNS