Although only entering the contemporary art world in 2017, Hanoi Contemporary Exhibition Center has quickly made a name for itself as the largest and most modernly built contemporary art space. Vietnam. Articlelife.info had an interview with Japanese curator Hatoshi Endo, art supervisor of Hanoi Contemporary Exhibition Center.
Can you tell how this exhibition came to be?
Painter Pham An Hai accompanied me to create this exhibition. Hai gave me a selection list of 20 artists, I chose 5 artists from that list and 5 others of my own choosing. Artists include Ta Minh Duc, Nguyen Duc Phuong, Le Phi Long, Trieu Minh Hai, and Vu Duc Trung. The artists selected by Pham An Hai are all painters, so I choose some other artists who use materials such as lacquer, video, installation art, etc. to balance. The artists Hai chose are great, I really like them.
Is there a story to be conveyed through this exhibition?
No, there is no story. We simply introduce young and dynamic artists to the public.
What do you think about the position of Vietnamese artists in the international arena?
I think they are quite unique because they come from a country with a strong traditional culture, and also experienced the war with France, communist ideology, and the post-Doi Moi era. Their country experienced many historical upheavals, creating a diverse and multidimensional context. Young artists are very attached to the past, and now they can access the internet, participate in the information community. They are like “egg in the cradle”, carrying a lot of potential. But at the same time, education is also a bit of a concern. So I hope they will preserve the existing legacy and develop it in the best way.
Who are “young artists” in your definition?
I mean artists who haven’t made a name yet, let alone age. Artists who have made a name for themselves have their work displayed in numerous galleries, sold and recognized internationally.
Did you mention concerns about “education”?
I mean a learning process from many sides. Artists, curators, teachers, audiences, all can grow further. The exchange of information could be better organized. Sometimes people have conflicts with each other, so I think it’s very important to communicate information. And this place (Hanoi Contemporary Exhibition Center) is a forum for us to create together, a creative environment. We just need to communicate a little better. I’m trying to establish that communication.
What is the “trend” in the current art world?
Now is the era of the information community, of Youtube, of the media, of the internet… The world is constantly changing. This is a fact that is happening on a global level, and the art world is part of that world.
How did you come to Hanoi Contemporary Exhibition Center?
I got an offer, and after a few interviews they accepted me. This is really a big challenge for me because I have been working as a freelance curator for more than 10 years, and I have never been to Vietnam. However, I have master’s and doctoral degrees in other countries in the region. So I came to Vietnam, devoted myself to the art world here, carefully observing and supporting each artist.
I am very focused on the audience. This is a commercial center, so a lot of people can come and enjoy the art. I want to cultivate the creativity of the viewer. Some other art spaces are not easily accessible to the public like Hanoi Contemporary Exhibition Center.
Have you seen models like Hanoi Contemporary Exhibition Center in other countries you have visited?
Yes. In Japan there is the Mori Art museum, in the Philippines there is the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. In Asia, public art centers have long been neglected, especially in contemporary art. Now with private foundations, private businesses open art centers to the general public, all tied to contemporary art. This is not to say that public art centers are not good, for example the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum has many excellent collections of paintings. You can go there and see the works over and over again. It’s a place where you have to come and enjoy art every year. However, contemporary art has not received much attention, so now private companies have opened art organizations to the public.