Hanoi – Paintings wrapped in white funeral cloth and spattered with blood were featured at a brash, freewheeling four-day outdoor art exhibition which wrapped up here on Sunday at the Temple of Literature.The “Art Space” exhibition, the brainchild of young artists Nguyen Van Tien and Tran Anh Quan may have been a surprise to the blocks of foreign tourists visiting the serene antiquity of the famed Hanoi landmark.

Draped on the old stone walls enclosing the yard were sleeping mats painting with Tien’s signature pictographic images and symbols. Tien said that he chose sleeping mats as a medium because they were woven by Vietnamese hands, representing traditions very close to the Vietnamese.

Tien, formerly a student of the Industrial Fine Arts College also had a collection of similar works on thin plywood unceremoniously stacked in one corners.

Several other painting on canvas, as well as a ceramic head – were hanging by ropes from trees.

Others were leaning against trees and wrapped in white funeral cloth with overhead bags of red liquid dripping on them though catheter tubes.

One piece featured an empty frame propped up on the grass. Quan said the picture in the frame was shot out with a gun, and now, looking through the frame, viewers get a glimpse of nature.

Freeing art from its gallery confines was another major theme behind the show, Quan said.

Despite the overwhelmingly apparent death message, Tien and Quan said the works are based on the Chinese philosophy of “Birth, existence, illness, death”, and in fact, could be construct as a spiritual celebration of life.

But the bottom of line, the artists said, was to spark new ideas in artistic creation and that the impression of the viewer was where any message could be found.

At the end of the show on Sunday afternoon, Quan and Tien deconstructed the works and set them ablaze, following another spiritual tradition in Vietnam. Quan, a graduate of the Industrial Fine Arts College, said that the Art space concept will be carried on in future exhibitions.

– VNS, Tuesday, January 21, 1997