During the French colonization of Vietnam, several French artists set up the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine in 1925 in Hanoi, the capital. This was to become the leading institute for the progression of art and its graduates were the pioneers of contemporary art in Vietnam. Since the school’s establishment, Vietnamese artists have favored painting in the Western medium.
The lacquer painting titled “A Girl in Traditional Countryside Dress” by Bui Huu Hung was auctioned at the wine tasting and fundraising ceremony, held by Ms. Nguyễn Việt Loan, chairwoman of Journeys to the East, in support of the Blue Dragon Children Foundation in their fight against human trafficking
Tucked away in a corner of the shores of West Lake in Hanoi, hidden under trees dwarfed by the new twenty-story hotels, and hardly visible from the road stands a house on stilts, a traditional, wooden, temple-like structure. This is the home of one of Hanoi’s most innovative and cutting-edge contemporary artists. You might not know it, though, by the look of the place. Cobwebs hang from beams, and straw mats are scattered on the floor. Yesterday’s tea sits in cold cups on a wet tray.
Alone amongst Asian cities, Hanoi still bears witness to both its ancient origins and its more recent colonial past. Gleaning office towers international hotels may have sprung up in the race towards modernity, while major roads have become a cacophony of motorbikes, but a stone’s throw away ancient Vietnamese temples and French colonial architecture survive intact in quiet tree-lined streets.
I am among those who, after long contact with so many Vietnamese artists, are of the opinion that lacquer whose enormous capacity for artistic ceration has been proven by certain artists in their diverse work and research-will in the near future become the artistic medium par excellence for representing this country since it acts as an exterior cultural sign of Vietnam’s vitality and uniqueness.