‘Sketching Vietnamese History’ is the first large-scale solo exhibition by senior artist Quach Phong. This exhibition showcases the remarkable ambition of a man who, as an artist, has witnessed major scenes of war; endured the struggle of a nation in its Communist cause; and assisted the growth of artistic networks between North, Central and South Vietnam – all of which he has drawn and painted, eventually becoming one of the first government arts administrators in post-war South Vietnam.
A project already 2 years in production, ‘Sketching Vietnamese History’ showcases but a fraction of what Quach Phong dreams this entire endeavor to be. On view you will find two paper scrolls, each almost 50-meter long, with gouache sketch of events, beginning with the legendary era of Hung Kings two thousand years BC until the early Le Trung Hung era in the 1500s. This exhibition will also include the first 12 lacquer panels that bring these scroll-sketches to life, alongside an extensive video interview with the artist sharing his motivations. This ongoing labor of love is envisaged to eventually depict the history of Vietnam to the present day, determined to produce these images in lacquer as a major public art piece – as a monument to Vietnam.
Believing in the power of the visual in the telling of history, this extensive body of work will portray the major battles of Vietnamese history; the key innovations of Vietnamese folk arts and culture; Vietnam’s agricultural and urban developments; while also conveying the role of education in this country’s growth. While the brightly colored scroll-sketches are near calligraphic in technique and style, Quach has taken great lengths to research and study the various facts and costuming pertinent to each event and its era, with a style in lacquer hovering between social realism in figure, with a depth of field akin to traditional ink painting.
This small showcase of the beginning of ‘Sketching Vietnamese History’ is also a call for support for the project’s final realization. Quach Phong dreams it to have its own public dedicated space, or, to be spread out as a series of mural, across the cities of Vietnam where the depicted events have historical relevance.
‘Sketching Vietnamese History’ is curated by Dinh Q. Le, Zoe Butt, and Nguyen Bich Tra. The exhibition, in collaboration with the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association, is part of a larger endeavour called ‘Conscious Realities’, initiated and organized by San Art and sponsored by the Prince Claus Network Partnership with San Art. This exhibition would not be possible without the facility support by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum.