When the heat starts to rise in Saigon you will find me dipping in and out of galleries around the city. It is a cool respite from the steamy days that are rolling in and a chance to catch up on wonderful Vietnamese art. If you live in Saigon or plan to visit, I would put Ben Thanh Art & Frame and Galerie Nguyen on your list. Two galleries, around the corner from each other, owned by the same person. Any one of the many sales assistants that greets you will be only to happy to assist you. I think they are among some of the best in Saigon.
We have long admired the work of Hong Viet Dung and always enjoy seeing his latest work. I thought the following were interesting for their shape and traditional Vietnamese colour..what I call "mango". Both pieces brought me back to the early days of Saigon..telltale signs of a bygone era.
The gallery owner, Nguyen T.T. Suong has this to say about his art:
"HONG VIET DUNG is a messenger of peace.
His body of work embodies all that which he holds true-peace
and attainment thereof. Each canvas that bears his name is Zen-like
through his chosen elements, colours, techniques.
A serene landscape, a solitary soul, a singular moment
manifested so effortlessly. In each of his work a story unfolds-
a universal message of lasting peace.
It is evident in HONG VIET DUNG'S body of work
that one must see through the apparent simplicity of its elements
to understand his message. Once you allow yourself
to be immersed in the subtleties and details contained in each scene,
the complexity of life slowly and steadfastly
becomes immaterial and ceases to exist.
A keen eye will notice solitary details in his canvas- a boat, a farmer,
a lotus, a water buffalo- all overshadowed by expansive forests,
lakes or gigantic trees. They are by no means an after thought but
rather accords the viewer an alternate perspective of what the artists
considers essential. In the artist's own words, we glimpse his life's mantra:
"I love to paint the simplicity of peacefulness around me."
and that my friends,
is what I got up to on a steamy day in Saigon.
Ben Thanh Art & Frame
7 Nguyen Thiep St.
Tel: (+848) 38233001
139 Dong Khoi St.
Tel: (+848) 38242723
Photos: Jeanne Henriques