Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sat 9th November - Ho Chi Minh City - Sophie's Art Tour

Sophie is a friend of a friend, she's been living out here in HCMC for three or four years and is now running an art tour. http://sophiesarttour.com/    
I was told about this tour a few months ago, and reminded about by Jo when she heard I was coming here. I'd already met Sophie the night before when she met me at the opening of an exhibition of propaganda posters at the Dogma gallery on a back street behind the opera house.
 It was refreshing to share the company of expats after a week without proper English conversation, and the free Saigon beers helped keep the banter flowing. We ended up with lovely boyf Stuart at a dirt cheap, down at heel riverside restaurant, eating delicious food and carousing with the friendly local staff and their pets.

The following morning I duly arrived at the appointed meeting place, feeling slightly worse for wear, and politely greeted my fellow art-tourists, all very respectable French expatriates, whilst grasping for the nearest black coffee. 

Sophie spent two years doing the research for her tour, which journeys through private and public galleries, reviewing Vietnamese artists and their work as they hold a mirror up to the turbulent history of the last 200 years or so.

I won't say too much about the tour - Sophie says it better. Suffice to say that it made for a fascinating morning, taking us on an incredibly well researched history lesson from before the days of Indochine, through the colonial era, the combat art of the French and American wars, right up to contemporary works by young artists of the current scene.
It was money very well spent in company considerably more refined than the backpackers that I'd been falling in with. Thanks Sophie!

The HCMC Fine Arts Museum
Heroic portraits of young VC soldiers to boost morale. Darkroom chemicals didn't work well in the jungle, photos were impractical. Combat artists could tell a better story.
Abstract by Tạ Tỵ
Lacquer work by Vietnam's foremost exponent Nguyen Gia Tri.
The San Arts building works as a resource for young artists and a gallery space for their works.

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