Dr. Phil. Art Historian Ildegarda E. Scheidegger: ““In Vietnam there are skilled and gifted artists”
(oil on canvas, 120cm x 160cm, 2014), by contestant Hoang Dang Khanh
As having mentioned in our earlier issues,
Vietart Today 2016 has first, second and third prizes which are worth over VND
2.6 billion, VND 1.5 billion and VND 1 billion respectively and it is now
drawing to an end. The competition is jointly organized by The V Art and Young
Artists’ Club (Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association) and sponsored by Galerie
Nguyen (HCMC). More details can be found at: http://thevart.com/vn.
The judging panel
members of Vietart Today 2016 include Ildegarda E. Scheidegger, Ph.D. of Art
(Switzerland; Thanh Kieu Moeller (Singapore), Curator; Julie Lam (Canada),
Collector; Oliver Do Ngoc (Luxembourg), Collector and Tran Thanh Canh, Artist
(Chairperson of the Young Artists’ Club). Dr. Ildegarda E. Scheidegger, a
former Director of Asian Fine Art of Sotheby’s Auction House, is a highly
experienced expert on Asian fine art. She is the author of a famous book about
Bui Xuan Phai – Nguyen Tu Nghiem.
And here is our
interview with her.
*The concept of “Vietnamese Professional Young Artists” organised
by Viet Art Today2016 is not a simple and easy to be judged as participating
artists are “young” but must be “professional” as their mind and expected artworks
might not be compatible. Please let us know your point of view and criteria to
fit in with the concept of “young” and “professional”.
- I am comfortable with this topic. An artist defines himself or
herself through his art work. His or her art work must exert an impact, an
emotion, a fundamental thought on the viewer. With “Young” you probably mean
that the artist is not yet prominently known or visible in public. Viet Art
Today 2016 is on the outset to change that.
* Based on those criteria and through initial information about
the competition, what are your thoughts about the young artist force in Vietnam
-In Vietnam there are skilled and gifted artists, and it is the jury’s
responsibility to identify them, recognize their talent and support their
further development. The competition offers various kinds of support to the
winners, such as public exposure, professional market access and network.
Based on my experience in working with artists and looking at art
works and the art market for many years, I am confident that I can contribute
to identify outstanding art works in high visual and formal quality that
transport a strong message and represent uniqueness. We should however be
aware, that we cannot predict a future success since success depends on the
artist’s personal development, the gallery’s performance, and not least on the
financial markets, among other factors. I am looking forward to collaborate
with my colleague judges for a constructive and fruitful exchange
Phil. Art Historian Ildegarda E. Scheidegger
* What does it make you to accept the invitation to be one of
the judges for such an emergent art competition?
-The invitation to be a judge of the first Viet Art Today 2016
Competition is a great honor for me. I am professionally active in the Asian
Arts since more than 30 years, and having a background also in Western art,
worked with artists and collectors on both continents. As the responsible for
Asian art at Sotheby’s Switzerland, I had insight into and was part of the
auction world, working at the art hubs New York, Paris and Hong Kong. My
interest in Vietnamese contemporary art developed over time and was triggered
actively when I worked on a portfolio of a collector who was interested in Vietnam.
This was followed by a trip with Mrs. Kieu Moeller to HCMC in 2015 which was
Already during my studies of Asian art at the University of Zurich
more than three decades ago, I admired the beauty of Dong Son ceramics and
bronzes. I have seen thereof influenced artworks in other countries in
Southeast Asia and East Asia as well. I acknowledge the Vietnamese contemporary
artists on the international platform who deserve great esteem for their talent
and efforts to position Vietnam in the global art scene. Vietnam has a vast
potential in artistic creativity which has been built on tradition.
*On the global art scene, young
artists usually attach themselves to contemporary art in which there are
variety of forms besides paintings, such as performing art, installation art,
multimedia, video art … Mostly, young artists of Vietnam is still create their
works in form of paintings which were very popular in the first half of 20th
century (paintings were a fertile field for modernism). What benefits and
difficulties do you anticipate about this competition?
-The term “contemporary art” refers to living artists working on
individual themes in a formal expression they choose among a vast array of
creative possibilities. Painting, which stretches from abstract to figurative
and uses all kinds of materials from traditional to mixed media, is still the
most common medium as it enables the artist to express his or her thoughts in a
visually comprehensible and perceivable manner.
With paintings, more than with other art forms, the actual skill of
the artist can be appraised. A painting can and should create direct impact and
emotion. I think therefore, that painting is the legitimate and appropriate
focus for the first competition. It can be debated, whether the competition
should broaden to include other forms of art.
“Going to Market” (Silk,
60cm x 80cm, 2016) by contestant Ho Huy Hung
*Once an artwork is brought out
to the art market, it would send back more or less signals, sometimes these
signals would make big impact on the artist to change the his way of thinking
and his technique of creation. How does an artist do in order to avoid that?
The artist is the patron of his or her art, not of the art market. I
know from several artists that the search for his or her art form which
convincingly transports their thoughts was a great challenge and burden for
them. May be this is the biggest hurdle an artist must overcome, a hurdle which
may take years to overcome. A fertile collaboration with the gallery and the
collectors can and should bring the market recognition without the artist being
distracted too much. Finding their form of expression and getting a favorable market
response helps building self‐confidence. This is essential for the creation of
strong art work able to resist critical trust, and tensions must be addressed
and resolved quickly. It is a assessments. To support this development, the
relation of the artist with the gallery must be built on mutual question of
business ethics to share risks and profits. Artistic as well as financial
success is the result of teamwork.
*Usually, galleries want
artists to create artworks which are easy for the galleries to sell but artists
have tendency to create their own works; therefore, conflicts of interest
arise. Which reasonable model of relationship should they build on for their
long lasting cooperation?
-This conflict of interest is an ongoing issue. Again, the artist
alone is the creator, he or she develops an idea and translates it into art
work. Artists may consider art work for different purpose:
a) a specific artwork for an exhibition, a show, a commission etc.
b) major art work for important private collectors and museums
c) minor art work for collecting, oftentimes, paper works, drawings,
prints, editions, etc.
I think it is legitimate that galleries demand from artists to cover
those aspects. Influential galleries can promote artists over many years until
the breakthrough happens. But it may also never happen, leaving the gallery and
the artist disappointed.
“Le” (oil on canvas, 150cm
x 130cm, 2016) by contestant Nguyen Cong Hoai
*After the completion of your
project regarding your book on Bui Xuan Phai – Nguyen Tu Nghiem and after the
contribution of your work on this competition, what is your near future works
related to Vietnamese fine arts?
One of my
projects, which is at the phase of brainstorming with a group of international
experts, is the creation of a multinational platform presenting and promoting
contemporary art from Southeast Asia. The plan is to start with Vietnamese art
in Switzerland. This project would be expected to exert an impact on Vietnamese
arts, depending also on interest and funding. I do hope
that artists’ venues such as The V Art and Galerie Nguyen (HCMC) will