Sophie’s Art Tour
By Ann Wheaton in HCMC
I am always looking for new and interesting activities to write about and to promote to tourists and expatriates that will showcase a little more of the history and culture of Vietnam, pursuits that add substance to the Vietnamese people and give some idea of the values and principles that they hold. To this end I embarked on a morning of journeying through Vietnamese modern and contemporary Art History with Sophie and a delightfully varied group of tourists who all had interesting backgrounds and knowledge to add to the tour.
|A view of the HCMC Fine Arts Museum in HCMC’s District 1- Photo: Ann Wheaton|
Sophie has a wealth of personal history and knowledge to bring into her tour which has developed from her years studying Fine Arts in England and Italy to her work experience in England both in Project Management and in Art Galleries. One interesting aspect of her career which took her in the direction of developing history through art was as Curator of an exhibition ‘The Iraq War Paintings’. She has been working in HCMC since 2009 developing opportunities in the film and art world. Her rationale in setting up her Art Tour was to showcase the intricate history of 20th and 21st century Vietnam through the artworks of contemporary Vietnamese artists who studied, fought, witnessed and documented major changes in Vietnam during this period.
The tour was a feast of exploration, a sensual ruckus, which commenced with Vietnam in French colonial times showcased at the private Art Gallery Duc Minh. We moved on to an examination of war artists, men who were usually combatants in the war as well as artists. This was a particularly interesting aspect of the tour as only a few war artists have received the recognition they deserve and to be able to view artworks of such incredible talent was a revelation. The curator of the Frontline Gallery, Richard, was an extremely generous man giving us the benefit of his incredible expertise in the area of war artists while we viewed the paintings displayed. We could have stayed there all morning listening to the anecdotes of this witty and friendly man but we had to move on.
Sophie has done her research well and throughout the tour we were regaled with historical and political anecdotes which added to our enjoyment and understanding of the impact that Vietnamese artists have had on their country’s intellectual life and the capturing of actual war scenes in the absence of photography in the fields of combat.
At a small gallery/shop called ‘Lotus’ hidden away on Dong Khoi we viewed some original and modern prints of old propaganda posters. The symbolism of the propaganda displayed a reminder of the impact that pictures have on any culture. A fantastic place to browse for collectors but also for those interested in interpreting the messages imbued in the communist ideals.
We were then taken to the magnificent HCMC Fine Art Museum, the building is a turn of the century French colonial building that has been previously used both as a commercial and private dwelling. The collection is housed over three levels and would require a few visits to examine the whole. Sophie had some significant artworks to bring to our attention mainly focusing onthose which displayed resistance to colonial rulers.
The last place on our tour was to the quirky Quynh Gallery which was holding an exhibition called ‘Static Friction: Burning Rubber’ a delight for petrol heads and motor bike fanatics. It was in complete contrast to the works we had seen previously on this visit and therefore a great ending to place us back in the modern world.
For a truly enjoyable morning, where you will be rewarded with a much more in-depth knowledge of Vietnam and its culture, book a tour with Sophie. The journey takes you from colonialism to independence, communism to globalization.
For more information, contact Sophiesarttour@gmail.com, tel: 01218303742, website: www.sophiesarttour.com.