Hanoi | Tet Art 2016

12:29:00 PM

A.poth.e.o.sis n. the highest point in the development of something, or the elevation of someone to divine status. Basically, a fancier way to say climax or culmination.

It was this year's theme for Tet Art—Vietnam's first and leading contemporary art fair, a new take on an old tradition its organizers are hoping to hold every year in anticipation of Tet or Lunar New Year, Vietnam's biggest holiday celebrations.

Art used to play a big role during Tet, as every Vietnamese family made it a point to a buy a piece of artwork to invite vitality and beauty into their homes for the coming year. The ritual endured the war and many other hardships but, for some reason, it slowly faded away. Tet Art seeks not only to evoke nostalgia for this tradition—the hope is that it becomes a lifestyle for every Vietnamese to appreciate homegrown art.

In 2015, independent group Real Art (led by artist Trinh Minh Tien) put together the first Tet Art fair, held in Hang Da Galleria in the Old Quarter, which featured 350 curated works by more than 80 Vietnamese talents. This year, Tet Art moved to the newly opened Hanoi Creative City—a creative complex near the Luong Yen station, and included foreign artists to its roster.

Hanoi: Tet Art 2016 | Awesome in Manila

City from above
by Pham An Hai

I came to know about Tet Art after extensive Googling led me to Hanoi Grapevine, the foreigner's number one source on the city's art scene. If you plan to hop galleries but do not have enough time in the city, Tet Art is a good alternative. Granted, of course, that you come during Tet season. One can call the fair a starter pack to Vietnam's budding contemporary art scene, as it displays a good mix of both veteran and up-and-coming work.

Hanoi: Tet Art 2016 | Awesome in Manila

Khong de (Not easy)
by Hung Viet Dung

And because it is a contemporary art fair, one does not have to have an extensive knowledge of Vietnam to appreciate and relate with the pieces. It was made in our time, and you will see more evidences of it as we stroll along the rest of my favorites.

In my mind I refer to the artwork above as the Beyonce piece of Tet Art. Though I don't love Beyonce, I do love anything gold and this one is an absolute eye-catcher. It's a curious piece, too. I love that it's undeniably luxurious and gaudy at some point, but it also makes me feel a little sad. (The same way Beyonce makes me feel about her branding and her lyrics, respectively #notsorry.)

Hanoi: Tet Art 2016 | Awesome in Manila

Sapa ngay cuoi dong (Sapa's last days of winter)
by Nguyen Quoc Huy

And for obvious reasons, I call this the Snow White of Tet Art. I and white space have had a lengthy love affair.

Hanoi: Tet Art 2016 | Awesome in Manila

Giac mo (Dream)
by Bui Van Tuat

Another sub-theme that I gravitate towards during art fairs are realist paintings of little girls. I remember so much about being a kid but I don't remember the last time I felt as innocent as the girls in these pieces. I was aware of the world at an early age (thanks to cable TV) and, while it didn't take away my childhood, it did make me feel at times like I'm moving too fast in this life. 

Hanoi: Tet Art 2016 | Awesome in Manila

Di tim 123 (Looking for 123)
by Nguyen Durong

A photo posted by Danielle (@awsmchos) on

Trua mua he
by Hoang Duy Vang

I was particularly attracted to the abundance of reds on display. Not sure if it had something to do with the New Year celebrationsthe Lunar NY is closely linked to the Chinese, who are wildly fond of the color red—but these paintings evoked passions I never guessed I could feel in an art fair.

A photo posted by Danielle (@awsmchos) on

The red paintings aren't in just this one section of the fair. They're scattered everywhere!

A photo posted by Danielle (@awsmchos) on

Bay 2
by Doan Hoang Lam

Out of everything, this was my favorite. I feel like it could've been drawn by Mannix Abrera (of the Kikomachine fame) and he happens to be my favorite comic artist! It's not the only reason, of course. To me, this piece is an accurate depiction of adulting struggles (lels) and sometimes, I do feel like I'm being thrown into a bloody chasm. ★


Short notice: Due to my increasingly busy schedule, I am no longer doing the Monthly Solutions series. I simply don't have the time to make an editorial calendar and plan posts extensively. (I don't even have time to read my favorite blogs. T.T) Still, I shall make good on my promise to share all that I can about my Hanoi trip. I have one more in the pipeline and it's a primer of sorts a.k.a. "important things you need to know before you actually book that ticket". So, watch out for that!

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