The HCMC-based Factory Contemporary Arts Center and the Hanoi-based Art Vietnam will co-organize Gang of Five Chancing Modern, an ongoing art project initiated by curator Le Thuan Uyen, from July 20 to September 9.
A Gang of Five photo by Gerhard Joren in 1993
The project surveys over three decades of artistic practice by five of the most important figures in the art scene in northern Vietnam: Hong Viet Dung, Ha Tri Hieu, Dang Xuan Hoa, Tran Luong, and Pham Quang Vinh.
Featuring nearly 40 paintings and numerous original historical materials, this will be one of the few retrospective exhibitions in Vietnam as it thoroughly documents the lives and preoccupations of local artists or artist groups of the 20th century.
In addition to reintroducing the Gang of Five to HCMC viewers and studying the group’s position as one of the first artist groups to form in post-war Vietnam, the exhibition will offer visitors an opportunity to rediscover the transformative phases that Vietnamese art went through during the post-renovation period.
The Gang of Five was established in Hanoi in the latter half of the 1980s. Upon their graduation and under the name “Gang of Five”, this group of artists grew and developed their practices amidst the significant social and historical changes in the post-renovation era.
Through their efforts to explore different artistic languages, breaking from what was commonly taught and understood as paintings, the artists reconstructed reality based on how they felt, capturing the everyday life of the human psyche as the country was going through one of its most significant transitions.
However, it is equally important to note that underneath this so-called “modern era,” there still existed undeniable old values, behaviors and mindsets.
The first rendition of Gang of Five Chancing Modern took place in Hanoi in October 2017, presenting their latest bodies of works. After more than 20 years apart, it was their mutual respect and understanding of one another that brought the five friends together again for this endeavor.
The Factory Contemporary Arts Center in HCMC’s District 2 will host Gang of Five Chancing Modern featuring a selection of the Gang of Five’s paintings between the 1990s to the 2000s and an extensive historical archive that gives visitors insight into the context of Hanoi in the 1980s.