Southern mirror paintings: a talk by Nguyen Duc Huy

Time: 20.05.2022 
Location: Sàn Art
Millennium Masteri
Unit B6.17 & B6.16
132 Bến Vân Đồn, Ward 6, District 4,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(enter from Nguyen Huu Hao side)

As part of Sàn Art Studio’s public program for artist Chi L. Nguyen’s residency, we hosted a talk about mirror paintings in Southern Vietnam, presented by Nguyen Duc Huy – a prominent collector and conservator of over 60 mirror paintings. During the hour-long presentation, Huy traced and detailed the art form’s origin and historical development, starting out as decorative art on Chinese snuff-boxes, to intricate art pieces adorning the Nguyen palaces’ interior spaces, to its ubiquitous presence on vendor carts and shop fronts in Cho Lon. Aside from decorative purposes, mirror paintings are widely used in various worship settings and religious spaces, most notably, artisans in Cho Lon during the 50s and 60s specialized in paintings of Buddha, domestic guardian gods, and ancestors. Some mirror paintings even contain messages of good fortune and well wishes hidden in clever wordplays. And even though the art form was brought to Vietnam through the immigration and flourishing of Chinese populations, it had adapted, both in form and content, to the cultural needs of its locale.  

This presentation was given in conjunction to Chi’s interest in researching mirror painting’s religious fable, figures motifs and application in the daily lives of Southern Vietnamese communities.