Uruguayan artist enhances cultural ties

September 17, 2023 - 08:35
Uruguayan painter Yandi Monardo is participating in a workshop in the framework of the Arts for the World Project hosted by Los Cabos Art Gallery and the Uruguayan embassy in Hà Nội.

By Lê Hương

It is a bright afternoon, and the art studio class at Hà Nội Việt Nam Fine Arts University is busier than ever. The smell of paint and sand overwhelms the spacious studio. A group of artists and students are losing themselves, spraying paint and sand over their canvases.

Uruguayan painter Yandi Monardo works on his own canvas. Occasionally, he stops to explain techniques to students, who follow his instructions step by step.

They make the backgrounds for paintings on canvas by scattering many layers of acrylic oil paint, stone powder and sand. They then use pointed nails to sketch on the background, finally removing all the sand to let sketches and colour clusters form.

EXCHANGE: Yandi Monardo explains his techniques to students. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

They have frames of different sizes and use different colours as they see fit.

All the students are excited to discover the new techniques and materials.

Nguyễn Quang Đô, a senior student at the university, cannot hide his joy.

“These new techniques are interesting to me, different to what I have learned before,” he tells Việt Nam News.

“I have just learned about classical materials like oil on canvas and lacquer, where you need to be quite disciplined. He teaches us new materials to mix with soil and stone powder, which I had never tried.”

Đô says the piece he has created at the class even surprised him.

“Such a workshop is great as we, the students, have few chances to exchange with foreign artists to explore their mindsets and ways to create things,” he says.

Nguyễn Thị Nhiên, a third-year student, says she loves this new experience of making a painting with sand.

“I'm not totally happy with my final product,” she says. “While following him, I could not imagine how the final product would be. Yet, I have completed my first work in his style. This is the first time I have exchanged with a team of Uruguayan artists. I found it interesting. I’m more curious and will learn more about Uruguayan art later.”

Nhiên says she likes the way the artist treated the materials on canvas.

NEW TECHNIQUES: Students follow Monardo's instructions step by step. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

“I should be more confident and dare to try new things,” she says.

Monardo says he uses sand in his artwork, as he lives in a place where the material is available. He combines the dust with marble stone powder, which is also available in Việt Nam.

“I want to surprise the audience with the final products,” he says. “The students put many layers of coloured paint and sand onto one another spontaneously. They may not be able to imagine how the final products will be.”

Monardo says Việt Nam is wonderful on many different levels.

“There are many different songs, colours, the people are so fantastic,” he says. “We can find incredible materials here.”

Monardo has been working on different materials and wants to try Vietnamese lacquer one day.

“We are trying to develop some cultural activities for the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Việt Nam and Uruguay,” says Raul Juan Pollak Giampietro, Uruguayan ambassador to Việt Nam.

“We have put much of our efforts in developing cultural activities. Because we consider them excellent two-way bridges between the two countries; it’s a superb chance for the two peoples to know each other.”

SAND STORM: He uses popular materials like acrylic paint, sand and stone powder. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

The ambassador says he appreciates the engagement of the students at the workshop.

“It’s a chance to share with other people from a great distance country and to discuss different techniques and colours,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for these students. The embassy is planning other cultural exchange activities later this year and next.

Đặng Thị Phương Lan, deputy principal of the university, says the university has hosted many similar workshops with foreign artists, but this is the first with Uruguayan artists.

“Their way of working is very interesting,” she notes. “They make our students practise right after the opening ceremony. Our students are so excited. They have been taught basic knowledge of painting in the curriculum and now have a chance to learn new contemporary styles.”

The workshop is in the framework of the Arts for the World Project hosted by Los Cabos Art Gallery and the Uruguayan embassy in Hà Nội. The same workshops took place in the Việt Nam National Arts and Culture Institute and the America Research Institute.

More than 40 artworks created at the workshops, including four paintings by Monardo will be displayed at an exhibition at the Fine Arts University, 42 Yết Kiêu Street, Hà Nội, on September 28.

Monardo has 28 years of experience working as a painter in Uruguay, and is now based in Cabo San Lucas BCS, where he has a studio and a gallery.

EXPERIMENTING: Students are excited by the new techniques. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

He has made a considerable contribution to community art, education, and cultural projects. He has also opened art spaces for new and experienced artists, both local and international.

Furthermore, he is now cooperating with Yana Aguirre, director of Los Cabos Art Gallery, on the project Arts for the World, which has been developed over 20 years in many countries, including Argentina, Mexico, the US, Sweden, Germany, and Spain. VNS

Uruguayan artists create their artworks. — VNS Photo Luana Monardo