Painter Vu Hong Nguyen: Creating an artistic journey for the public

Wednesday, 2019-07-10 14:18:58
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Painter Nguyen Quan's artworks were displayed at the 2017 AIFF (Photo: NDO/Pham Hoang Minh)
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NDO – Known as a visual art project for the community which was launched in late 2015, Art in the Forest (AIF) has created a positive impact on the artistic creation in the country as well as inspired many businesses to invest in the arts towards the benefit of all parties, particularly the public.

Painter Vu Hong Nguyen, who is a co-founder and direct coordinator of the AIF project, granted an interview with Nhan Dan Weekly Newspaper.

Driving force for creation

Q: During the first years of the AIF, stay-in creation programmes were formed; however, this model was not applied in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Were there any factors impacting on the AIF’s organisation over time?

A: Since the stay-in creation programme in 2017, artists and I have exchanged a lot and agreed that it was time to reconsider this model, towards achieving the expected quality of the artwork. Therefore, I decided to change. The local artists who were chosen to participate in the AIF still visit the planned studio space to consider the direction for their creation and then they make artwork in their own workshops.

I must come to the artists’ workshops to ensure that my companionship with them is uninterrupted. For example, I visited and exchanged with young sculptor Tran Thuoc seven-eight times during last year’s AIF, while meeting with other competitors at least twice. With this flexible operating method, artists feel secure about their personal lives, so they pay more attention to ensuring the quality of their artwork. In addition, they can receive larger funding because we rebalanced the funds from the organisation of the stay-in creation programme. However, particularly in the field of sculpture, with the participation of international artists, the stay-in model has been maintained.

A: Initially, the AIF focused on inviting many well-known artists; however, in later projects, there have been more young participants. Why has there been such a change?

Q: We considered many factors related to the project in order to select the direction to suit the final goal. We did not have much knowledge or financial resources for the collection of artworks dating back to Indochina Fine Arts (1925-1945), resistance and Doi Moi (Renewal) periods. Therefore, after the first years with the gathering of well-known artists, we invited more young people who may not be famous at present, but we believe that they will pursue the professional career. In addition, I myself pay special attention to the human factor in art activities. For example, among young people with the same abilities and potentials, we will select those who are living in more difficult circumstances, hoping that AIF will be a driving force and encouragement for them. There were many potential artists who would not sell their artworks cheap even though they had to soon face the fragile boundary between life and death or difficulties in their daily lives.

Painter Vu Hong Nguyen

The seriousness and kindness – the biggest criteria

A: What are the general criteria for the seclection of artists and artworks for each AIF period?

Q: The biggest criterion is to give a sense of the seriousness and kindness of this project to all participants, from the artists and organisers and spectators. The programme provides the public a chance to enjoy a diverse and colourful art party. Therefore, the selection of artists for each AIF year must ensure the artistic quality so that their artworks can correspond to each other. It is hoped that AIF will bring them much joy and inspiration as well as motivate them to make more effort in their future works.

A: Over the past five years, the domestic enterprises’ investment and funding for fine arts has seen as a trend with diverse forms, such as developing a collection of artworks, making research books and sponsoring creative camps. What do you think about the comment that investment and funding for arts is merely a way to promote the enterprises?

Q: This advertising way is too costly, but the business efficiency is not high. For example, an enterprise spends billions of Vietnamese dongs for an art project, while guest attending the opening ceremony are almost all artists who are not well-off or have no need for the sponsor’s products. Instead, with that amount of funding, or even less, the enterprises can advertise their products on mass media, towards their potential customers. However, the advertisement on the media will be gradually forgotten, but the art will bring a different image to the business. This is a long-term benefit not only for businesses, but also for artists and the public at present and in the future.

Q: In the context that sometimes the criterion of beauty is still behind some other criteria, do you find that you are too dreamy and also lucky as having companions? How will the AIF be in the next five years?

A: My companion and I began discussing this model in 2009 but they were only plans. After five years of the AIF, I realised that there are people who always quietly and generously support the art activities.

But no longer a daydream, the next AIF programmes will consist of an outdoor sculpture space, an indoor museum of paintings and sculptures along with a studio for rotating displays. The museum may only be very moderate, corresponding to our permissible conditions, but it certainly won’t make visitors disappointed.

I hope each locality will not only have an art destination like the AIF but more projects, creating an artistic journey for the public. The children of yours, mine and the public in the future will be interested in aesthetics in a different manner, so we should prepare them well.

Thank you very much!

From 2015 to 2018, three stay-in sculpture programmes and three fine arts and sculpture exhibitions were held under the AIF project. As many as 34 major artworks are displayed in the outdoor space of the Flamingo Dai Lai Resort. The fine arts and salon sculpture museum is expected to be completed in 2025.

During this year’s project, there are two major events: an exhibition presenting mature and beautiful works by artists born in the 1970s from various localities around the country and a stay-in sculpture programme with the participation of six foreign artists and a domestic one.

The AIF was recognised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as one of five outstanding fine art events in 2016 and 2017.