Monday 2 October 2006

Short Life, Short Art

In the climate of these times, rife with social defects and evils, arts, as the partial reflection of life, provides us with an elaborate panorama of the society we are living in: its people, its psychology, its common mental defects, its ideology, its educational level, its taste of beauty, and so on.

In painting alone, it is clearly seen that contemporary Vietnamese art stays somewhere unseen in the international context. Even Vietnamese artists can hardly tell us where they are in the world’s art map. They do not find any distinguished character in Vietnamese art. The fact is that in a length of time we have seen every period needed in art history: romaticism, realism, modern arts, and now post-modern art. We have art for art’s sake and art for life’ sake, or art with political motives. We have gone far enough to include even early 20th-century dadaism and surrealism in our 21st- century fine art. Everyday we see dozens of Kandinsky-styled drawings in galleries, museums, and art exhibitions.

So where does Vietnamese art stay in the international context? (This query is borrowed from the title of a round-table set up by disengaged scholars of the Talawas forum. Honestly speaking, I was not courageous enough to read all what these scholars said in the round-table).

Art corresponds with the life that it reflects, and we all know that our modern life is characterized by the advance of science and technology, and the road that links between a prototype and its product has been shortened. Contrary to the past when a product’s life must be lengthened as much as it can, the duration of today’s products should be made as short as possible. The cycle of present-day products are sometimes shockingly short: fashion, jewelries, cell phones, automobiles, homes, furniture, all of them are premature products. Today customers get more easily tired of a new product. And artistic products are not exceptions. Musical genre, performance style, CDs, music videos, paintings, all comes and goes before leaving any imprints on audience’s mind.

(more on this later)