Photo exhibition showcases Vietnam nature

A photo exhibition on Vietnam’s natural landscape and geological formation opens today at Hanoi’s Opera House.

Entitled Doi thoai voi di san dia chat (A dialogue with geological heritage), the exhibition is a side activity to welcome an international symposium on geology (APGN GEOPARK 2011) to take place in Hanoi over July 16-24.

Many of Vietnam’s scenic views and natural heritages from Ban Gioc waterfall, Ma Pi Leng Mountain to Hong River are featured among the exhibited works.

These artworks, including 77 individual photos and photo sets are the finalists of a photo competition organized by the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources earlier this March.

Vu Quoc Khanh, head of the Vietnam Association of Photographic Artists who judged the photos said the photographers have visualized and helped viewers understand more about “geological heritage”, a concept still not familiar to many Vietnamese.

The photos are shot with professional techniques and with distinctive creativeness in using light and processing colors, Khanh said.

A VND20 million cash prize has been awarded to Hoang Chung Thuy, who topped the contest and two VND10 million prizes to two other runners-up.

The exhibition will remain open until July 20 at the Hanoi Opera House.

Vietnam painter attends US course for artists

Vietnamese painter Phan Ngoc Minh, a winner of the 2010-2011 Freeman Foundation Asian Artists Fellowship, is taking part in an art course being held in the US from July 3 to August 29.

The “Asian Artists Program” at the Vermont Studio Center in Vermont state, funded by the US-based Freeman Foundation, provides two-month residencies to winners of the fellowship from 11 Asian countries.

Minh was born in Quang Nam in 1954 and graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University in 1991. He is now a member of the Vietnam Association of Fine Arts.

He is renowned for his works based on the UNESCO cultural heritages of Hoi An, My Son, and Hue Citadel that have been displayed in Vietnam, France, and Ireland.

Minh said the course provided a good opportunity to learn from international artists to complete his dream of “making journeys to the past” to create paintings based on the country’s heritages.

The Smurfs to be dubbed in Vietnamese

Finding Nemo, Open Season and Rio, Hollywood’s latest 3D animation The Smurfs will be the fourth movie to be dubbed in Vietnamese before playing in theatres nationwide this August.

The dubbing cast will include well-known actors such as Thanh Loc and My Duyen.

Thanh Loc, a veteran actor in plays and films for children, will dub both the voices of Gargamel and Clumsy Smurf and My Duyen will take on the role of Smurfette.

My Duyen, who is confident even though this will be her first dubbing role, said she loves the movie soundtrack and will try singing in some parts of the movie.

Based on a comic and television franchise first published as a series of comic strips by Belgian cartoonist Peyo in 1958, The Smurfs tells the adventure of the tiny blue Smurfs being chased by the evil wizard Gargamel from their village to New York, where they meet new friends who help them find the way home.

The movie will be shown at Galaxy theatres nationwide from August 5 in both subtitled and dubbed versions.

Hoi An to teach calligraphy for free

Hoi An, a central ancient city recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage site, will hold free monthly classes on Han – Nom calligraphy to promote its cultural root.

Adding another interesting activity to the tourist hub, the class will be held every month on the 14th of the lunar calendar, a monthly event when all lights are turned off, leaving only candles and cloth lanterns to light the age-old city.

Local students, tourists and foreigners are all welcome to join, an official said, as they will learn how to use brushes and practice a good penmanship.

Reference materials for these Han-Nom calligraphies come from historical writings and carvings widely found around the city’s old buildings, she added.

Pham Thuc Hong, a Hoi An native who will teach the art said he wanted to pass on to younger generations a passion for Han- Nom writings and introduce to tourists a cultural trait of the city.

HCMC artist gives free traditional music lessons

Tuyet Mai, an accomplished traditional musician and an advocate for the genre has opened a free music class at her home in Ho Chi Minh City to tutor traditional music buffs.

Starting Friday, the class will last until mid September and has attracted more than 40 students of various ages and careers.

Mai, a traditional music virtuoso, plays tam thap luc (a Vietnamese hammered dulcimer with 36 metal strings), T’rung (a Central Highland bamboo instrument), drum, dan da (lithophone) to k’long put (also a bamboo instrument) and sings as well.

Now a main soloist at the Bong Sen Traditional Theatre and frequently performing for the HCMC Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera, she will teach students on traditional instruments, traditional music history and basic music theory.

Ngoc Quyen, a second year student of the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities said she joined the class as being a Vietnamese; she needed to know Vietnamese music.

Many other students are elders or retirees who now have time to spend on a hobby they could not pursue in their younger years.

Mai said the purpose of the course is to help students to tell one instrument from another and understand how to play them.

For years now, with her husband, Dinh Linh, also a known traditional musician and their son, a piano student, she has held numerous traditional music performances at home for locals and foreign tourists.

Although there are still problems in preserving the rich musical heritage of Vietnam, she believed, the Vietnamese will not turn their back on their culture.

The class, lasting until September 18, is held on weekends at 104 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh district.

Art that adapts to the venue  

Betrant Peret as a DJ at the Esperantopolis 2011, a cultural event featuring a variety of arts, held at the French Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City last month.

A space, an atmosphere where art interacts with life in a way that everyone is comfortable, no matter what his or her background, no matter what the person’s age, no matter what the person’s relationship to art – Esperantopolis 2011 aspired to create this space.

Betrant Peret, his partner Sandrine Llouquet (a Viet kieu artist), and Sophie Gambart of the French consulate organized the multi-art exhibition at the French Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City last month.

The show brought together works by some 20 French and Vietnamese artists, including graffiti, photography, installation art, plays and hip-hop performances.

Event-goer Mai Thao discovered “many strange things at the unique cultural event,” including a fashion show of “remakes” by a Vietnamese designer.

“I was also moved by the graffiti by Seth. The French artist’s talent amazed me,” she said.

“The story of the Vietnamese lady in his painting somehow expressed people’s feelings about changes caused by urbanization.”

For Peret, the show succeeded in one of its key aims, because the audience seemed to feel at home.

“Esperanto used to be a utopian language in the early 19th century. The ambition of that language was to be universal… and polis, in Greek, means the city,” said Peret, explaining the title of the exhibition.

“That is what we had in mind… Could we consider art and art events as this universal zone?”

Peret said he together with the co-organizer, Sophie Gambart, wanted to create an event with high-quality art for everybody without assigning any theme or topic to it.

“To me, it’s really important for everybody and anybody, from the xe om (motorbike taxi driver) to the director of a gallery, to feel comfortable in the environment of esperantopolis.”

It was not the first time Peret, a graduate of France’s Ecole National des Beaux Arts de Bordeaux, had tried to create this universal space.

He has organized many events and exhibitions “in the spirit of esperantopolis,” mainly in France, but also in the US, Germany, Cuba, Singapore and other countries, before he came to Vietnam.

As an artist and an art event organizer with more than 20 years’ of experience, Peret said he’s always been interested in the relationship between a venue and the public.

Any venue has potential for displaying art work, while art has to adapt to the venue, which allows the venue to generate its own public, he said.

“I would say that painting or organizing an event is nearly the same to me, it’s a question of composition, a question of how to invest, to use a delimited zone.”

“I like the public, any public, to be able to feel happy and comfortable in any location… then art becomes part of the environment and the public, too.”  

The 40-year-old artist had earlier developed the idea of an “Art Total” that blurs the borders between art and life, creating “ephemeral and utopian moments.”

Over the last four years he has felt that his shows in Vietnam have been reaching an increasingly larger, mixed audience of both Vietnamese and expatriates, and that there is a greater expectancy for such events.

So he aims at an Esperantopolis 2012 which is “bigger, stronger and longer.”

Asked about his journey to Vietnam, Peret said that after he and his partner Llouquet had completed a lot of projects in France, they decided to come here to start doing “some exchanges between the two countries and the two cultures… to try to be part of the exciting adventure an emerging country like Vietnam can provide.”

He is also a founding member of the artists’ collective, Mogas Station, which brings together French, German, Japanese, American and Vietnamese artists.

“The energy we can find in Vietnam is super strong, that is the fuel we need to go on, in life and art.”

American Idol star ‘excited’ about Vietnam shows  

David Archuleta, runner-up in the seventh edition of American Idol in 2008, says he is “excited and a bit worried and stressed” before his first shows in Vietnam next week.

The 20-year-old American singer, who along with the 2008 American Idol winner David Cook were on Forbes' list of “Breakout Stars of 2008”, told Thanh Nien’s reporter in America that that he will perform most of his own compositions to fans in Vietnam.

“These songs are beautiful messages about life,” said David, who started singing at the age of six. He released his second album, “The other side of down,” in 2010.

David, whose song “Crush” reached second in the Billboard hot 100 chart in 2008, told Thanh Nien that the Idol contest changed his life though he finished the show as the runner-up.

For the two shows in Vietnam, called Idol Music Event 2011, David Archuleta will perform with music band Archuleta and his father at the Military Zone 7 Stadium in HCMC and the Giang Vo Exhibition Center in Hanoi on July 22 and 24 respectively.

The concerts, which are part of David’s Asian tour covering Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, will also feature top local singers, including Vietnam Idol 2010, Uyen Linh, and runner-up Van Mai Huong.

Graffiti project targets interactive art  

A community-based project called Graffiti in the Alley is being carried out at the ZeroStation gallery in Ho Chi Minh City from July 12 to August 7.

The art workshop and gallery will collaborate with Click 9, a graffiti team from HCMC, to use graffiti as a tool to awaken interaction between people living in the neighborhood where ZeroStation is located.

For nearly one month, the artists will draw graffiti continually on the wall of the site, creating a lively visual art space for the neighborhood and communicating directly with the residents.

During the event, there will be plenty of graffiti paintings to be drawn, erased and re-drawn, thereby emphasizing the ephemeral nature of street art practices.  

The project is, therefore, not only based on the aesthetic object, but also on the relationship and the openness of dialogue.

ZeroStation, located in the heart of the city, is a large yard where kids play.

The art project at 288 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ward 8, District 3, welcomes people to visit anytime after 2 p.m. to watch, talk to and/or participate in drawing graffiti with artists.

Expressing love for Vietnam’s sea and islands

The sea and islands, a sacred part of the country's territory, has become a familiar topic and inspiration for many artists. Artists from across the country responded enthusiastically to the contest launched by the Vietnam Fine Arts Association on May 15, 2010 and produced many interesting paintings, sculptures and propaganda posters on the theme.

The contest aimed to promote patriotism and raising awareness of marine resources and protecting the ecological environment well as the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The artworks reflect the beauty of the land and lifestyle in marine provinces and islands, their economic achievements during national renewal and Vietnam’s sovereignty over its sea and islands.

With the support of the Navy High Command, many artists had a chance to take field trips to the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, Bach Long Vi island and islands in the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf to learn more about the sea and islands and Party and State policies regarding them, and to seek inspiration for their artwork.

Six months after the launch of the contest, the organisers had received 670 entries in a range of media, including propaganda posters, paintings, sculptures, drawings and collages, by 513 artists from 40 provinces across the country. Of which there were 214 propaganda posters, 436 paintings and sculptures. 11 prizes were awarded to paintings and sculptures and eight were given for propaganda posters and an exhibition entitled ‘For the Fatherland’s Sea and Islands’ was held in Hanoi in December 2010.

There were also seminars and books, as well as an exhibition of propaganda posters on the theme of the country’s sea and islands held within the framework of the contest, received active response from artists, soldiers and children nationwide. According to the Art Council, the contest demonstrated the creativity, talent and patriotism of Vietnamese artists.

The beauty of nature and the people in marine was revealed and expressed through a variety of different angles. Many prize-winning pieces were rich in symbolism and expressed in a very romantic style, such as the oil painting ‘Dat Nuoc’ (The Country) by young artist Tran Xuan Binh from Hanoi, who won the first prize in the painting and sculpture category, as well as ‘Bien Hat’ (Singing Sea) by third prize winner Nguyen Hoang Anh from Ho Chi Minh City, and oil paining ‘Tinh Yeu Nguoi Linh Dao’ (The Love of a Navy Soldier) by Pham Minh Tuan from Hanoi.

The beauty of these regions, and the lives and work of the local people and soldiers, reflected in several outstanding works including 'Trong Rung Ngap Man' (Mangrove Forest Plantation) by Nguyen Thi Minh Hien from Hanoi, second prize winner in the propaganda poster category; 'Du Lich Bien Giau Dep Que Huong' (Beautiful Sea Tourism) by Pham Quoc Chu from Ho Chi Minh City; 'Khai Thac Dau Mo Day Manh Nguon Thu Tai Nguyen Bien' (Oil Exploitation and Promoting Marine Resources) and 'Tran Dau, Nguy Hai Sinh Thai Bien' (Oil Spill - A Risk to Marine Ecology) by Nguyen Quoc Hiep from Hanoi.

Reviewing the results of the contest, painter and President of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, Tran Khanh Chuong, said the entries surpassed previous creations about such a familiar topic and will help raise public awareness of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.