Mar 23 - May 29, 2021
Installation of ceramic works by artists Lê Triều Điển and Hồng Lĩnh
All images courtesy of Sàn Art
The resurgence of ceramics, and more generally speaking crafts, into contemporary art exhibitions has prompted endless debates over the last two decades: on dated views of high and low art, on a possible aesthetic function of art, on the classification of craft and fine art objects, or on the ability of traditional craft to be contemporary. If we follow the logical thread that contemporary art evolved from the dematerialisation of the art object then does craft's attachment to skill and material automatically banish it from the fine art category? Or do its uniquely anachronistic and anti-mass production stances make it radical and avant-garde enough to secure its place in a broader definition of visual arts? Although no unanimous conclusion has been reached, it seems safe to say that its growing representation in institutions points out to an undeniable fact: craft has wedged its way as a valid voice and methodology for contemporary artists, a stance this exhibition wishes to acknowledge.
Bùi Công Khánh, Fractured History ¦ Lịch sử nứt gãy
Rather than focusing solely on individual objects, ‘Impressions Unearth’ aims to consider the significance of each body-of-work and uncover how the present artists have, in their specific ways, explored, experimented, recontextualised ceramics and elevated them beyond craftsmanship. Connecting Bùi Công Khánh, Lê Triều Điển, Hồng Lĩnh and Nguyễn Đức Phương are ceramics that are in one way or another attached to vernacular traditions - whether in aesthetic, medium, theme, or site of production - but that have severed ties with notions of use and function. They are works that test the conceptual boundaries of the medium, objects that intellectualise, revive and honour Vietnamese heritage while expanding our perceptions of ceramics within contemporary art.
Nguyễn Đức Phương, Smells like distant spirit | Đầy mùi xa vắng
Bùi Công Khánh has established himself as a leading figure amongst regional artists who have used craft traditions as a catalyst for innovation. Stylistically his porcelain and celadon wares not only depart from their expected forms and uses but are also loaded with meaning, the material becoming a conceptual carrier for social critique. Placed in spatial and aesthetic opposition to him, artists Lê Triều Điển and Hồng Lĩnh's raw and unbound works remind us of another voice: that of the visionary, self-taught artists defying mainstream gallery agenda. Their vibrant terracotta wares evoke a return to primal and instinctive forms of making, not meant to fit in any mould. Finally Nguyễn Đức Phương, also known as Phương Giò, stands at a cusp between fine and folk art, the closest to traditional craftsmanship in his adherence to themes and material. His ability to rejuvenate vernacular arts by imbuing them with humour and experimentation allows him to elude artesanal labels, craft becoming instead a stylistic preference within a more complex imagination.
Bùi Công Khánh （ B.1972, ĐÀ NẴNG ）
Bùi Công Khánh is an artist deeply fascinated with social assumptions of cultural heritage. As one of the first local artists to gain an international reputation in the 1990s, with his performances questioning restrictions of individual expression in Communist Vietnam, Bùi’s multifarious practice has since embraced painting, sculpture, installation, video and drawing. He is a poetically provocative artist, whose art continues to grow with depth afforded by historical research, a marriage of the plastic arts with conceptual methods not taught within the educational system of Vietnam.
He has had various solo exhibitions, suchas ‘Porcelain Medals and Jackfruit Grenades - The American War in Vietnam examined through the art of Bui Cong Khanh’ at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2018) ; ‘Dislocate’, Sàn Art & The Factory Contemporary Art Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (2016), ‘Fortress Temple’, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2015) and ‘For Home and Country’, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore (2014). Notable group shows include: ‘Stealing Public Space’, The Substation, Singapore (2020) ; ‘Homo Faber: Craft in Contemporary Sculpture’, Asia Culture Center, Gwangju (2019) ; ‘Singapore Biennale 2016: An Atlas of Mirrors’, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2016) ; ‘Concept Context Contestation: Art and the Collective in Southeast Asia’, Jogjakarta, Indonesia (2016) ; and ‘Reshaping Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics from East Asia’, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena (2015) amongst others.
LÊ TRIỀU ĐIỂN （ B.1943, BẾN TRE ）
Lê Triều Điển grew up in the Mekong Delta before moving to Saigon to study at Phu Tho Polytechnic College. Completely self-taught, he spent over 40 years developing a singular style of painting outside of academic traditions or artistic trends. Inspired by his memories of Ben Tre and Vinh Long, he createsintrospective and intuitive works translated through bold colours, strong brushwork and symbolic lines and shapes. He writes “for me, painting is nothing high-toned, or mysterious. It is everyday life, like breathing, eating, drinking; it is the action to survive in life”. He lives in Ho Chi Minh City with his wife, poet and artist Hong Linh (Pham Thi Quy), and exhibits extensively in Vietnam and abroad.
Notable past exhibitions include ‘The Beginning of the Beginning’, Luziger, Ho Chi Minh City (2020) ; a residency and exhibition at Saint Bonnet le Chateau (2019) ; ‘Reminiscences of the Mekong River’, Galerie Dumonteil, Shanghai (2019), ‘Imprint’, Galerie Dumonteil, Shanghai (2015) ; Galerie Dumonteil, Paris (2012) Ham Long Artists Village exhibition, Ho Chi Minh City (2002) ; Fine Arts Association exhibition, Ho Chi Minh City (1995). His work has also been showcased in Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia
HỒNG LĨNH （ B.1953, VĨNH LONG ）
Early on, Hồng Lĩnh took part in student movement activities and began to write, with her first work published in the press back in 1969. In 1972, her first publication of poetry Thơ Hồng Lĩnh (Con Đuông) was printed. Other poetry publications include Những chuyện thường ngày (Văn nghệ Cửu Long, 1987) and Vườn đá (NXB Trẻ, 1995). She uses Phạm Thị Quý to sign her literary works while she uses Hồng Lĩnh for her visual practice. Like her spouse Lê Triều Điển, she also paints and produces ceramics in addition to her work as a poet and writer.
Past exhibitions include group exhibitions in the Mekong Delta (1989) ; the group exhibition ‘Giữ Đất và Nước’, Fine Arts Association, Ho Chi Minh City (2003) ; a contemporary group show at Bình Quới tourist village, Ho Chi Minh City (2003) ; a group show, Hòn Khói, Nha Trang (2003) ; contemporary art group exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts (2005) ; and ‘Art contemporain et céramique’, Saint- Bonnet-le-Château (2019).
NGUYỄN ĐỨC PHƯƠNG （ B.1982, HÀ NỘI ）
Nguyễn Đức Phương (Phương Giò) graduated from the University of Fine Arts in Hanoi in 2007. He spent the next decade transferring his observations of contemporary Vietnam into visual objects, often employing natural materials such as soil, plant pigments and traditional papers. Nowadays, his practice spans ceramics, sculpture and painting with a strong penchant for traditional crafts in terms of production and local folk arts for visual inspiration. He also collects and restores old furniture and antiques which he decorates with humorous cartoons and sells in his Hanoi studio, Lồ.
Following Nguyễn Đức Phương’s solo exhibition ‘Just By Being’, Manzi, Hanoi (2017), he was invited to participate in A. Farm international residency’s programme launch (2018). Since then he has participated in the following exhibitions: ‘The Foliage 2’ (2018), VCCA, Hanoi ; ‘In Situ’, Manzi, Hanoi (2019) ; ‘Xem Đêm – Càng Đêm’ with architect Nguyễn Hà, Manzi, Hanoi (2020) and ‘WHERE IS THERE–THERE IS HERE’ with Đàn Đó, VCCA, Hanoi (2020).