Vietnamese young contemporary artists – chances and challenges

Contemporary art, mostly with the involvement of young artists, has developed in Vietnam for decades characterized by the use of a

dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenges traditional boundaries. Young artists while indulging themselves in on August 20’s contemporary art want to raise their voice on the varied and changing cultural landscapes of identity, values, and beliefs as well as to reflect a wide range of social issues.

In Vietnam, playgrounds for young artists are not deficient. They have Biennale of Young Artists for those aged from 18 to 35 to showcase latest contemporary artworks. Moreover, the HCMC Association of Fine Arts also holds annual group exhibitions for artists while the HCMC Museum of Fine Arts also organizes exchange exhibitions with international artists from many countries around the world.

Recently, Galerie Quynh has launched a non-profit initiative called Sao La to serve not only as a platform for exhibitions, film and video screenings, workshops and lectures but also as an informal space for young Vietnamese to experiment, challenge and develop their creative practices. Young artists can also join ‘San Art Laboratory’ – a studio and three-month residency program initiated and managed by San Art in HCMC to share creative ideas via critique and discussion with participating local and international artists.

If Hanoi has contemporary art spaces such as Manzi, Muong House, and Hue has New Space Arts Foundation, then HCMC also has ZeroStation, a venue for art workshops, talks, and exhibitions for contemporary local and foreign artists. Moreover, every year, Vietnamese artists can apply for many international artist residency programs such as WOLO Artist Residency in Malaysia whose deadline is until late November next year, the 2015 JAPIC Animation Artist Residency whose application can be submitted until September 10, the FLACC Visual Arts Residency in Belgium with application deadline being until late next year, the Visual Documentary Project 2014 – People and Nature in Southeast Asia with the deadline running until October 21, and many others.

However, young artists need a more professional art scene, more care of the public and more investment from the government and collectors.

“The public seems not to know well about art activities as in exhibitions at galleries and museums, we just see artists, their friends and families, some curators, a few foreign collectors and galleries’ owners. We do not meet many visitors who are residents from other careers such as engineers, doctors, singers, property traders or teachers,” says Bui Hai Son, a sculptor. “That is why we need a stronger change in the education system and updates from media for the public,” he said.

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