THE THREAD OF CONNECTION Exhibition - Curatorial text
The thread of connection
Silk has been one of the materials being experimented in the teaching and creative studio program in the art training environment in Vietnam for nearly a century since Indochina College of Fine Art (Ecole Des Beaux Arts) under the establishment of Indochina University. Many generations of teachers and students from the early days of the establishment of the School have experimented together to find out how to express visually in such a new materials such as: painter Nguyen Phan Chanh, Alix Aymé, Nam Son, Le Van De, Mai Trung Thu, Le Pho, Le Thi Luu… gradually formed a distinctive voice of silk painting, contribute to enrich the flow of Vietnamese fine arts. Since then, through many generations of artists going through ups and downs of twists and turns events of the history, silk painting is still an important genre/material along with lacquer, oil painting…parallel with the political and social history of Vietnam. Along with lacquer, silk have become an art material that unites the traditional spirit of the nation, the Eastern sensibility with the modern aesthetic of the West, becoming an intermediate material that harmonize the spirit between tradition and modernity.
Once there was a fairly long period, silk painting was also being “coldly abandoned” for many reasons, one of those was probably because it did not provide the glamourous appearance with brilliant look and eye catching like most of other materials such as: oil painting, lacquer or acrylic when there was a need to attract the customers from the art market or in the exhibitions. With its elusive quality that for a long time, silk painting medium even become the last choice by the art students in the art training environment. Silk weaving villages to serve the need of silk painters also gradually dwindled, narrowed and there was almost no improvement or upgrade in quality or technique for many years.
The return of Silk material in Vietnamese Art scene is probably only more than a decade ago, stemming from the efforts of experimenting and researching of several young painters, and at the same time partly resonating from the repatriation of paintings by artists from the Indochina period after the million-dollar auctions on international auction houses
In that trend, the “Silk painting studio” of the Painting Department, Vietnam University of Fine Arts has also tried to gradually restore and renew the program “Silk painting major” in the recent years. Fortunately, having my role in both as the creator of the specialized program and as faculty directly teaching the students, I have tried to apply the spirit of “liberal education” to the specialized composition course. In addition to the basic to advance skills that are cultivated through each lesson, the goal of each exercise are designed to stimulate open thinking capacity, blurring the boundary between creative exercises in school’s curriculum and the developing personal practice project through stimulating exploration, deepening and nurturing the “special uniqueness” in each creative personality from which to build for themselves an interest, a topic, a visual language or a method of creating meaning from beginning steps. Before working on a creative project, all the students are required to conduct surveys to research all related issues connected to the images that is being used within that project. The images and themes will be encouraged to be viewed and studied from different angles, from art history in the chronological and synchronous direction, to the perspective of cultural symbol, signs, and psychology… The skill of building the foundation of thematic research in combination with presentation and group discussion activities have also gradually open the student to creative ideas and new ways of presenting the concept in their major.
In this exhibition, our students will also expand the theme related to silk material, going beyond personal practice in their creativity. Continuing the method of thinking of the studio curriculum when placing Silk material as an open subject of Art with its ability to combine with other mediums, creating site-specific installation. With exhibition projects like this, I also would like to carry out my educational point of view by using real art projects, so that student is learning through the process of working in the project, self-explore as well as self-taught the method of implementing artwork from their own research. From there, finding the way to solve practical problems to realize the work and the exhibition.
This exhibition has an outstanding feature that is the connection between the past students from many years ago and our current silk major students who just graduated. There are also lacquer major students who want to connect, participate with silk major students forming a collaborative work. And especially this exhibition also has the connection with artisans from My Duc Silk Village in Ha Tay. Young artists, alumni from Painting Department were encouraged to work as a team, sharing their research from techniques to cultural topic, connecting their own art creative practice with the activities of the traditional handicraft villages. Students gradually become more mature and independent when getting used to learning how to organize, to manage, and to present their works in a professional manner. “The thread of connection” is the 8th exhibition of “Silk painting Studio” within recent 3 years. It can be said that the collaboratives from different courses, different departments and interdisciplinary in this exhibition has been strengthened, becoming a spirit that forms the distinctive difference of the silk exhibition.
Nguyen The Son
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