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Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Art Exhibition Celebrates Viet-Singaporean Friendship


Zoey Nguyen 

With more than 40 artworks from 14 Vietnamese and Singaporean artist, the "Huu Nghi: Singapore & Vietnam 50-10 Exhibition" is held on September 9-14 in Hanoi to commemorate the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations and the 10th anniversary of strategic partnership between the two countries.

Hosting the opening ceremony of the exhibition on September 9, Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam Jaya Ratnam stressed that art is a wonderful thing that has the power to transcend languages and borders to bring people together.

"This exhibition celebrates our strong cultural ties under the theme of "Huu Nghi" (or "Friendship" in Vietnamese). It is the theme of friendship and cooperation that the artists have collaborated and explored the similarities and differences between our peoples and cultures to come up with these artworks," said the Singaporean Ambassador.

Singaporean curator/artist Jeffrey Wandly, Exhibition Chairman, said that, while the artists interpret people, cultures, lifestyle, natures and architecture through their own lenses, the exhibition resonates deeply with the overall spirit of "Friendship".

Also, throughout the process of putting the exhibition together, all 14 artists showed great enthusiasm and a spirit of solidarity. "In the final preparation before the opening day in Hanoi, despite the language barrier, Vietnamese and Singaporean artists, who met for the first time, worked together very well," said the Singaporean curator.

Jeffrey Wandly also expressed his honor to participate in both this exhibition and the art exhibition organized by the Singapore Embassy in Vietnam in 2018 on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.

"Compared to the 2018 exhibition, this exhibition clearly demonstrates the progress of the relationship, with a long continuity and a wider spread in the community. In 2018, I was one of the two artists participating. In 2023, there are 14 artists with more than 40 artworks," exclaimed Jeffrey.
According to Vanessa Yeo - one of the exhibition's curators, many artists were inspired by iconic architectural images, namely the Long Bien bridge (Hanoi), the Imperial City (Hue), or the Lion Head Symbol (Singapore) to create unique interpretations of landscapes. Motifs like lions, buffalos, and orchids are also used to capture the shared values of unity and harmony.

"Common cultural values and their symbols are subjects that artists used to depict the synergy between two countries. [Beside bodies of water and shared cultural values], the last prevailing subject matter are the diverse architecture and urban environments - a blend of old and new, from ornate ancient temples, quaint 18th century shophouses, to the free-style forms of contemporary buildings," said Vanessa.

The exhibition is a dialogue where each individual voice merges into a holistic harmony. For example, a collection of artworks by Singaporean painter Dominic Thian features ones that he live-painted during a trip to Ninh Binh province (Vietnam) in early 2023 along with his outdoor paintings in Singapore. Dominic not only showcased his admiration for a unique Vietnamese heritage but also proved "the warm ties shared between the two countries allowing their artists to cross-travel freely and seek inspiration from each other".

Meanwhile, Japanese sculptor Hiroko Mita - a master of Singaporean preeminent ceramic craft - created a series of three sculptures titled "Embrace I", "Embrace II" and "Trust".

Sharing her inspiration, Hiroko talked about the concept of an orchestra that includes many instrument players. They all work together in harmony to produce the symphony, hence the dynamic intertwined forms of the clay strips.

"Several types of clay are molded into individual strips which are then put together, like people with many differences, all are unique in age, gender, culture, organizations. But they all play a part to create many shapes and ascend to greater heights in unison. Each piece was hand stamped with orchid and lotus motifs, the national flowers of Singapore and Vietnam," said Hiroko.

The collaboration showcases the artist's passion for combining traditional materials with modern technology. With the use of digital forms of arts, they blur the lines between their own identities and the connection between the cultures of the two countries.

"Huu Nghi: Singapore & Vietnam 50-10 Exhibition" is a diplomatic endeavor supported by the Singapore Embassy in Vietnam and Singapore Global Network. The exhibition is a collaborative effort between Maya Gallery (Singapore) and Chau & Co Gallery (Vietnam), leading art institutions known for their commitment to promoting cultural exchange and dialogue.