Galerie Quynh is pleased to present Hanoi-based artist Ha Manh Thang’s first solo exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City. Featuring a new body of work depicting monuments and edifices that symbolize Vietnam’s urban centers, HEAVEN IS A PLACE reflects the artist’s continued concern in reconciling Vietnam’s cultural and social history with the dramatic changes the country has undergone since Doi Moi.
Widely known for his bold and colorful satirical paintings that juxtapose Vietnam’s past and its rich heritage with fashionable images of consumerist culture, Thang’s new work is less about flash and more introspective and subdued. A waft of irony, however, still pervades the series as the exhibition title suggests.
HEAVEN IS A PLACE questions the connections between the buildings we construct and the ideals they embody. Thang looks at powerful and iconic monuments such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Hue Citadel, Ben Thanh Market and Bitexco Financial Tower and reduces them to their basic forms with no visible details. These reconstructions/erasures resemble rudimentary architectural drawings against anonymous backgrounds, or appear like silhouettes in an ominous almost apocalyptic scene. Vulnerable and exposed, their physical, imposing stature may seem diminished but their symbolic power still exists. That their identities cannot be stripped entirely reveals how deeply the images and ideals are ingrained in our collective consciousness. Is it possible to even reexamine the meanings and power of these structures/ideals? What do the transparent layers in these landscapes suggest? When these landscapes physically disappear, will they continue to be relevant or will their significance be lost?