CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE ART
Dinh Q. Le, a Vietnamese-American artist and collector, is touted as one of the world’s most acclaimed Vietnamese artists, and his work will be featured in a solo exhibition by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City next May. However, the journey to his impressive position in the art world has been tumultuous, fleeing violence in Vietnam for the U.S. at the young age of 10, and returning to Vietnam under better circumstances in 1993, 15 years later, to reside in Ho Chi Minh City.
Why does he collect?
He reveals in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that since his return to Vietnam collecting art has been his passion, and he suspects it is fueled from the loss he experienced when he fled to America and was forced to leave everything behind. Somehow, surrounding himself with objects may be compensating for this loss. However, he also comments:
“…A part of me worries that if I don’t buy these objects up, they will disappear from Vietnam. These objects are part of Vietnam’s history, my history. But the most important thing is that I just love to live with these beautiful objects.”
What does he collect?
His collection focuses on Vietnamese ceramics, and he estimates to have about 200-250 pieces from the following eras: northern Vietnamese (Chinese) Han Dynasty terra cotta (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), Oc Eo pottery (1st-7th centuries), ceramics from the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), and the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400), and Chinese Han, Song (960-1279), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
However, he presently focuses on collecting 12th century Ly Dynasty white ceramics, and 15th century Tran Dynasty tricolor works from the Hoi An hoard, found in an area shipwreck.
Who does he collect?
His contemporary collection includes works by Shirley Tse, Brad Spence, Christian Marclay, and Manuel Ocampo, ranging from photographs, drawings, paintings, video, ceramics, and books.
Of Vietnamese artists, he collects Tiffany Chung, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phu-Nam Thuc Ha, and Tuan Thai Nguyen.
Vietnamese art: not what you’d think
Mr. Le deplores the current (mis)conception of Vietnamese art, which has been reduced to decorative images that are popular with tourists. He has founded an arts organization, San An, which is actively working to change the perception of Vietnamese art.
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