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In Conversation: Lacquer in Contemporary Art with artists Saeko Ando (Japan/Vietnam) and Phi Phi Oanh (United States/Vietnam)

21 Jul 2018, Sat 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM
The Single Screen, Block 43 Malan Road

Moderated by Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore

Artist Saeko Ando will discuss with Trees of Life – Knowledge in Material participating artist Phi Phi Oanh the way in which traditional Vietnamese lacquer has been innovatively adapted in contemporary art.  



Saeko Ando (Japan/Vietnam) studied Japanese art and philosophy at Waseda University in Tokyo. In 1995, she moved to Vietnam to learn lacquer art under the tutelage of Trinh Tuan, Doan Chi Trung, Nguyen Huy Hoan, and Lam Huu Chinh. Her practice integrates the traditional with the contemporary through an innovative use of Vietnamese lacquer techniques. Ando’s eccentric style earned the respect of Vietnam’s art society, and she was the first foreign member to be invited to the Hanoi Art Association in 2000. She has exhibited extensively in Vietnam and internationally, and regularly presents her research on lacquer arts from Vietnam, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan in conventions and symposiums.

Phi Phi Oanh’s (United States/Vietnam) work is informed by her inquiry into lacquer as a material combined with her studies of the Vietnamese lacquer painting (sơn mài) tradition. Drawing from the hybrid nature of her personal history, Oanh constructs pictorial and evocative installations that reconfigure culturally-specific signs and symbols, creating familiar yet distinctive experiential spaces. In 2004 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study traditional Tranh Sơn Mài (Vietnamese lacquer painting) in Hanoi, which has since become a key medium in her practice. She has had solo exhibitions at L’Espace, Alliance Française in Hanoi; Artcore in Los Angeles; Art League in Houston; as well as El Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Managua. In 2016, she was commissioned to create Pro Se, a work for the National Gallery Singapore and also showed her monumental Specula in the Singapore Biennale (2013).

Khim Ong is Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes at NTU CCA Singapore. She previously worked as an independent curator and held curatorial positions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE, and Osage Gallery, Hong Kong. Ong was Manager, Sector Development (Visual Arts) at the National Arts Council during which she contributed to conceptualising NTU CCA Singapore. Selected exhibitions co-curated for the Centre include Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History (2017), Incomplete Urbanism: Attempts of Critical Spatial Practice (2016), and Amar Kanwar: The Sovereign Forest (2016). Selected curatorial projects include Re|Collecting Asia (2017), the Southeast Asia Platform, Art Stage Singapore (2015), and Landscape Memories, Louis Vuitton Espace, Singapore (2013).


Image credit (from left to right): Phi Phi Oanh, Palimpsest slide #43 and Palimpsest slide #25, both 2014. Courtesy Diego Cortizas del Valle.