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Young artists spark stale scene (June 22, 2004)

'Trong Heo Ngoai Tuoi' (Wearing a Happy Face with a Sad Heart), a work in acrylic by Bui Cong Khanh.
Are you getting lost in the sea of look-alike works flooding the fine arts market? Are you wondering where the fresh, young Vietnamese talent is hiding?

Look no further. Selections from the Franco Vietnamese Young Eyes competition are currently on display at the Hanoi Contemporary Fine Arts Centre. The featured works exhibit a variety of methods and materials, including acrylics, oils, wood carving, lacquer, and mixed media, and their styles reflect the contemporary values of a new generation of Vietnamese artists.

The Young Eyes contest, in its fourth consecutive year, attracted 120 contenders from all over Vietnam last month. Ly Train Quynh Giang, a 26-year-old female artist from Hanoi, won the first prize, and Bui Cong Khanh, 32, from the central city of Da Nang, came in second. Ho Chi Minh City-based Lim Kim Katy and Luong Van Viet, from Hanoi, both came in third. Vo Van sac from Thua Thien-Hue Province received the consolation prize.

Giang was awarded a three-month internship at the Fine Arts School of Paris.

The contest judges included Henry Claude Cousseau, rector of the Paris Fine Arts School, Tran Khanh Chuong, general secretary of the Vienam Fine Arts Association, painter Le Trong Lan, sculptor Dao Chau Hai and Hanoi-based Canadian artist Brian Ring.

"I personally appreciate artists who help maintain a dialogue between the past and present; tradition and modernity,"said Cousseau, a first-time judge. "I spotted such a conservation in this competition."

Cousseau said that he was particularly impressed with Bui Cling Khanh, the second-place winner from Da Nang, for his innovative style that incorporates traditional cultural themes into his own material.

He described first-prize winner Giang as a very skilful and talented artist. "I hope that the trip to Paris will benefit her in many ways," he said.

Cousseau regards Young Eyes as a collision of opposing styles and ideas. "Before I came to Vietnam, I was told that Vietnamese artists trained very rigidly in their work," he said. "I actually do-not pay much attention to techniques. What matters most to me is the voice of the creation, which brings a meaning to the techniques. The techniques themselves are meaningless."

Cousseau said that he believes Vietnamese and French artists share the same passion for new ideas and discovery. However, while the young Vietnamese artists contemplate traditions, the French must discern their identities through more modern backdrops.

The exhibition at the Hanoi Contemporary Fine Arts Centre, 621 La Thanh Street, will continue until the end of June. (VNS)

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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