Two new galleries have opened in Hanoi, Bui Gallery and 25 Studio. They are both contemporary art galleries but they are very different from each other.
Bui Gallery, inaugurated on April 7 at 23 Ngo Van So street, stated it was “a new art gallery, a commercial gallery to assist newly-emerging artists” and “wished to become the orientation for the look about Western art”.
Bui Gallery promises that artists will have opportunities to introduce their artworks at two galleries in Paris and Hanoi and it wanted to create a perfect circle to “promote international standard culture, a real ‘incubator’ for contemporary culture”.
Betty Bui, the founder of Bui Gallery, is a young Vietnamese-French businessperson who specialises in art business. It is said that Betty Bui bought the villa at 23 Ngo Van So at the price of dozens of billion dong (millions USD) to open Bui Gallery. This gallery runs very professionally and is managed by a French.
The gallery opened with the exhibition “Who do you think you are?”, attracting many artists and art lovers, especially many foreigners.
The exhibition introduced artworks by ten artists: Bui Quang Khiem, Ha Manh Thang, Bui Cong Khanh, Vuong Thao, Na Son, Sandrine Llouquet, Phi Oanh Oanh, Matthew Dakin, Bertrand Peret and Arno Baude.
While foreign artists showed their views of Vietnam in “Western style” or simply introduced European-style artworks, the works by some Vietnamese artists reflected contemporary life in Vietnam.
Ha Manh Thang continued presenting ridiculous acrylic-paper paintings: characters sit among ancient objects like hoanh phi (horizontal lacquered boards), cau doi (parallel sentences), carved wood sofas, sindora-wood carved beds but they wear sun glasses of famous brands.
Bui Cong Khanh drew Mr. Good and Mr. Bad who drink Coca Cola. Vuong Thao, who was recently ranked in the top ten artists in Asia-Pacific, brought to the exhibition “Living Fossils” (ancient houses in Hanoi made of composite), which won him the second prize at the Hanoi Exhibition 2008.
Bui Quang Khiem painted female dancers in Chinese black ink on do paper. Na Son showed photos that “grasped’ interesting moments of life.
25 Studio, which opened on March 25, appeared without marketing and advertising activities: no invitation letters, no press release, and the gallery doesn’t even have a name-board.
The road to 25 Studio (34 Giang Van Minh) is a small alley, which is muddy when it rains, and the gallery is located near a canal which is called “Cong Thoi” (Rotten Culvert).
The inauguration ceremony of 25 Studio attracted many artists, both Vietnamese and foreigners, but without senior and famous names.
Painter Do The Cuong, 34, the spokesman of 25 Studio, said that the idea to open 25 Studio came about accidentally. Cuong met some artists at a cafÃ© and they talked about the lack of spaces for installation and performance arts and they decided to open 25 Studio.
At that time, Cuong was hiring a warehouse and the group agreed to open an exhibition right there.
Coming to 25 Studio, the audience could see a highway painted on the floor and running to the window by Nguyen Hong Phuong; an improved cart painted in glittery yellow and standing on a bed covered with a white sheet by Do The Cuong; steel wire-made men and animal-shaped figures hung in mid air by Tran Duc Du; and contrawise inferior space by Nguyen Xuan Hoang.
Nguyen Song arranged machinery components to make an urban centre which was contrary to the suburbs made of rice flour. Hoang Minh Duc reminisced about the countryside with “Longan Memory”, a work made by hundreds of longan seeds. Huy An appeared differently with a hoc blade put on the table.
25 Studio looks more lively and nearer to the life of Vietnamese while Bui Gallery looks more Western and “salon”.
“Many artists are funded by foundations to make contemporary arts, such as installation, performance art, body art. How about people who want to create contemporary arts but don’t have money? Let’s go to 25 Studio!” Cuong said.