Established in 1994, Post Vidai is the unique collection that focuses on the development of Vietnamese contemporary art. ‘Vidai’ in Vietnamese means ‘great’ or ‘monumental’, which was used widely in propaganda slogans and posters. The use of this term is a playful way of collecting the artistic gestures after the establishment of ‘Doi Moi’, Vietnam’s ‘great’ economic reforms of the late 1980s. Post Vidai is a title that provokes questions of ambition, to imagine a space and time inspired by the past but looking towards a prosperous future in Vietnam. It is also a phrase that reflects the focus of the collection – the post Doi Moi generation, when contemporary art started its practice and discourse in Vietnam.
Post Vidai collects both the internationally recognized and as yet unknown pioneers whose perspectives of Vietnam give critical reflection of a country in the process of defining and re-defining its cultural identity. In Vietnam, there is no public institution that collects contemporary Vietnamese art. Aware of the need to give support to these critical voices, Post Vidai not only acquires their works, but also aims to generate dialogue in the articulation of a new Vietnam as a diasporic community.
Post Vidai produces publications and exhibitions, supports lectures in conjunction with local art organizations, and creates online projects that place its collection in conversation with other works from Vietnam and abroad.
This collection is currently composed of over 400 works of art of more than 50 artists encompassing painting, sculpture, installation, video, lighting, works on paper, photography and ceramic. Works range in date from 1970 to the present, with artists born between 1936 to the present. 38 male artists and 15 female artists are represented. 26 artists are local Vietnamese; 2 are foreign and 9 are considered ‘Viet Kieu’ (a local term applied to the generation who fled Vietnam after the Vietnam War and later returned). These artists predominantly live and work in Vietnam.
Post Vidai is a growing collection that is housed between Saigon and Geneva.
Experimentation with traditional visual art forms in Vietnam was spurred by the opening up of economic reforms in the late 1980s. Artists were subsequently given the opportunity to travel abroad and pioneers of Vietnamese contemporary art, such as Nguyen Trung, Nguyen Cam, Truong Tan and Vu Dan Tan were key players in affecting change in their respective local artistic communities. Post Vidai possesses critical pieces by these significant artists – in particular the controversial installations by Truong Tan (of which ‘Wedding Dress’, a performance and installation, was shut down by the cultural police when first exhibited in Hanoi in 2002).
Vietnamese art history books (of which there are very few) thus far have focused on the movement of abstraction in painting within Hanoi only, largely failing to acknowledge the wealth and contribution of Saigon artists to this national art form. Post Vidai holds critical works by Nguyen Trung, Tran Van Thao, Nguyen Tan Cuong, Do Hoang Tuong – key abstract painters of Saigon who have, within the last decade, been given increasing national attention.
Artists born within the mid 1970s, the generation most acutely affected by the aftermath of the Vietnam War, is also particularly strong in Post Vidai, with key works by some of Vietnam’s rising international art stars, including Dinh Q. Le, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Nguyen Minh Phuoc, Tiffany Chung, Pham Ngoc Duong, Hoang Duong Cam and Nguyen Manh Hung. These artists, some of whom are known as ‘Viet Kieu’ or ‘overseas Vietnamese’, are strongly influenced by the affect of war, migration, urban growth and forms of political control that are referable to the experience of Vietnam as a post-colonial, Communist country striving for international capitalist currency.
Strong committed women are also important within Post Vidai, featuring the work of Phan Thao Nguyen, Ly Tran Quynh Giang, Tiffany Chung, Nguyen Phuong Linh, Dinh Thi Tham Poong, Sandrine Llouquet, Le Hoang Bich Phuong, Sung Tieu, and more, artists who maintain their own artistic language and lifestyle moving against the grain of social and cultural expectations in Vietnam.