“Encounter” seeks to reveal the deeper layers of personal stories and self-inquiries. The artworks, both presented as an artistic craftsmanship and a means of self-expression, call for the spectators to observe and actively engage in the exploration of the self that are concealed beneath the oftentimes-disguised façade.
Encounter, presented by The Dogma Prize, is a group showcase of fourteen artists applying various media to self-portraiture: from paintings, sculptures, installations to moving images and animation. In order for the artists to uncover, understand and give insights to their personal identity and inner world, Encounter attempts to set a stage where the artists, as individual subjects, observe personal and deep-rooted inner objects through the means of reflection, bringing forth a multitude of duality and unavoidable paradoxes between internal and external realities. The artworks show tensions between growth and destruction, as in the case of Nghia Dang’s installation, exposure and hiding in Dang Viet Linh’s painting, societal discipline and freedom in Tran Quoc Giang’s found objects, or rationality and emotions in Pham Hong’s soft sculpture.
Encounter also encourages reactions through the meeting between the artist and the reality of which he has to cope with, a condition that enables Giang Nguyen’s interdisciplinary artwork to open up and pose questions to the external world, the advance of technology into our future in particular. Through the work, collective visions can be seen yet personal voices can still be heard.
In Truong Minh Quy’s short documentary, he searches for his own identity amidst an extended, larger realm of collective memories, which crosses borders geographically and psychologically. Phan Hoai Nhi and Pham Nguyen Anh Tu use animation and video art to unravel inner thoughts, emotions and experiences of millennial city dwellers in the rat race of urbanization and the omnipresent information age.
When confronted with their own realities, painters Nguyen Van Bay, Nguyen Minh Chau, Nguyen Tan Phat and Vu Ngoc Vinh choose an existential angle – that is individualism versus conformity and the daily struggle of being an artist and being a part of an immediate family, of a societal rigor, or mortal survival amidst the turning of nature’s course.
Looking at the self from the metaphysical perspective, Vu Quang materialized the philosophical abstraction into a sculpture that poses as both a result of craftsmanship and conceptuality.
It is worthy to notice a spectrum in the choices of medium, tone, form and technique among all the artists. Ultimately, this is a process in which Encounter invites the artists to merge and unify the different parts, leading to an intergenerational pondering on the revelation of the self. In recognizing an effort from younger artists to move away from the traditional application of self-portraiture vis-à-vis painting, one should also consider the fact that artistic expression on canvas is indeed still a prevalent practice in the country. Hence, the resulting showcase aspires to offer a view on a current landscape in which Vietnamese artists from all walks of life celebrate the spirit of creating self-portraiture.
At the other end of the gaze, spectators are encouraged to pose as equal in a capability of inventing their own translations. Free and unattached to any biased or privileged artistic medium, it would invite all to appropriate works for themselves and make use of these in ways that their artists might never have imagined…in this Encounter.