The hunt for new artists to feed the demand in Asia continues. Bonhams had good success with Anglo-Taiwanese painter Richard Lin. Now they’re expanding the market’s understanding of Modern Vietnamese painting with a show of the next generation of painters who came of age after pioneers Le Pho and Mai Trung Thu. The show opens in late January.
Here’s Bonhams’s release:
From today to 24 January 2020, Bonhams presents ‘The Next Wave | Modern Vietnamese Art’ at its Hong Kong gallery, the first-ever exhibition in Asia dedicated to key second-generation modern Vietnamese artists, featuring over 25 works by ten of the most significant artists from this period.
Unlike their predecessors including Le Pho (1907-2001) and Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980), who had lived and worked through relatively calmer times, the artists featured in the show saw their lives and careers inextricably intertwined with the profound shifts experienced by Vietnam and its people throughout the second half of the 20th century.
Collectively, they lived through the Vietnam War from the mid-1950s to 1970s, as well as the subsequent opening up of the country and economic reforms in the 1980s Đổi Mới era. Over three decades, the circumstances and orientations of this generation of artists underwent immense changes, as subject matters and sentiments that had been previously suppressed then came to the fore in their works. The current exhibition therefore provides a curated lens through which we learn how this influenced the unique stylistic developments and subject matters pursued by these artists.
Wang Zineng, Head of Modern and Contemporary Art, Asia at Bonhams, commented: ‘With this exhibition, we want to acknowledge the breadth and depth of modern Vietnamese art. While the art market’s present focus is still on a few first-generation Franco-Vietnamese artists such as Le Pho and Mai Trung Thu, we want to draw awareness to the art of the following generation of artists. Their works and careers – and indeed the stories of their works – reflect so much more the realities of life in Vietnam in the second half of the 20th century.’
The artists featured in the show include: Hoang Tich Chu (1912-2003), Nguyen Van Binh (1917-2004), Nguyen Tu Nghiem (1919-2016), Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988), Nguyen Sang (1923-1988), Tran Luu Hau (b.1928), Nguyen Trung(b.1940) and Nguyen Phuoc (b.1943).
Nguyen Trung (b. 1940)
A leading figure of the second generation of modern Vietnamese art, Nguyen Trung worked in two divergent styles – figurative painting and symbolist abstract painting. His figurative paintings, of which Fisherman Family(pictured on front page) depicting the themes of fecundity and abundance is an outstanding example, are widely collected by key private collectors in Asia. His abstract paintings, led by Ochre Gate(pictured left below) in the exhibition, often combine the spirit of abstract expressionism with symbols and elements drawn from Buddhism, and are beginning to command critical and market attention.
Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988)
Bui Xuan Phai is perhaps the most internationally-renowned Vietnamese artist of the second generation, and one of the last graduates from the Indochina Fine Arts College, along with Nguyen Sang and Nguyen Tu Nghiem, whose works also feature in the exhibition. Happy New Year Chúc mừng năm mới (pictured right above) represents new hope and the vivacity of Vietnamese art in the 1980s, where a newly-liberalised and open economy brought forth a convivial and resurgent spirit in the artworld. In this changed landscape, Bui Xuan Phai found wider acceptance for his art.
Hoang Tich Chu (1912-2003)
The most senior amongst the second-generation Vietnamese artists, Hoang Tich Chu’s works have seen a surge of interest in the recent market. Having lived through the turbulence of World War II and the pro-independence struggles in the decades following, Hoang’s most valuable contribution to Vietnamese art lies in his history painting. Hoang is also a great advocate for lacquer painting, his Capture of a US Prisoner of War (pictured above) is a reflection of Vietnam’s triumph over its tumultuous times, and remains one of the finest lacquer paintings executed by the artist.