Stay positive and create works that are true to you, young Vietnamese artists
Vietnam will be the first stop on Vincent Fantauzzo’s Asian Tour. The Australian painter won the 2008 Archibald Peoples’ Choice Prize for his triple-image portrait of the late movie star Health Ledger and the 2009 Archibald Peoples’ Choice Prize for his portrait of child actor Brandon Walters who played in the epic adventure “Australia”. With the Archibald Prizes, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art awards, and prizes from solo exhibitions in many countries, Fantauzzo has earned a reputation that has pushed the value of his paintings to as much as US$300,000.
The artist is hopeful that Vietnam will be a good start for his tour and his Vietnamese audience hopes that Vietnam will become a new destination for fine art. The Saigon Times Daily talked with Fantauzzo ahead of his exhibition on August 27.
The Saigon Times Daily: Reading your biography, I noticed you have an Italian name but were born in England, then lived in Australia and Hong Kong, and that you exhibit your works around Asia. Which country has left the deepest impression on you? Are you influenced by any school of art?
- As far as my time spent in Asia I would say Hong Kong has left a strong impact. I was there recently during the Hong Hong Artfair. It was amazing to see art of all types from so many parts of Asia. There was a group of Vietnamese artists who had great exhibitions on in Hong Kong at the same time.
Why Asia for your tour? And why Vietnam as the first stop while Vietnam’s art market is not yet developed? What do you expect from the exhibition in Vietnam?
- As an Australian I always feel close to Asia, like neighbors. Being an English speaking country, Australia obviously has strong western influences, however Asia is right next door and full of vibrant and rich cultures. I think it is important, and I’m excited, to gain firsthand experience of Asia. What would be a better way to learn and share a little of my own culture than coming to Vietnam/Asia and meeting the people. Vietnam has an emerging art scene that is really of its own. Vietnamese have a lot of history and stories to tell and have all the reasons to be proud of their heritage and culture. It’s an exciting time to be here. Everyday it is changing.
At the press conference at the Park Hyatt Hotel I heard you say the reason for your second visit to Vietnam was because Vietnam had real people. Could you elaborate?
- In developed countries, you often find a lot of superficiality. I don’t feel that here in Vietnam. People are warm and welcoming, and the important thing is they embrace and are proud of their culture.
Do you have any work about Vietnam?
- This time, coming to Vietnam, I am discovering and trying to capture all the moments of life and people with my camera. These photos would be the material for me to use in future paintings.
Most young Vietnamese artists cannot earn a living selling their works. Do you have any advice from your own experience?
- I was making art for a long time before I made a full living from it. Being an artist is not just a job but a way of life. I would say to young Vietnamese artists to hang in there, stay positive and create works that are honest and true to themselves. There is plenty to be inspired by in Vietnam.
What would you say to our readers ahead of your exhibition on August 27?
- I hope they will make it to the exhibition and experience my art work. I have had an amazing journey full of adventures here in Vietnam, I love the people, the energy and Vietnamese noodle soup, or pho.
Reported by Kieu Giang
*The Vietnamese leg of Vincent Fantauzzo’s Asian Tour starts tomorrow and runs until September 5 at Y Ngoc-Sy Hoang Gallery, 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, HCMC. The tour goes to Bangkok in October, Singapore in November, Mumbai in December and Shanghai in February.