The city viewed through the window

Thursday, 2021-10-21 17:34:05
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An artwork by Nguyen Viet Cuong. (Photo courtesy of painter)
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NDO – Making use of cartons, painter Nguyen Viet Cuong from Ho Chi Minh City reproduced the rhythm of the city as viewed from his apartment’s window during the social distancing period using the language of fine arts.

Doctors and medical workers in the frontline against the pandemic, shippers, volunteers, people receiving donations and vaccines, and artists performing at the field hospitals are highlighted in the project “Saigon Box”. It was created by painter Nguyen Viet Cuong (born1989 in Ho Chi Minh City) as soon as the city applied the social distancing measures. Through the information via the media and activities that he observed from the window of his apartment, Cuong reflected the rhythm of life in his beloved city during the special period on cardboard using acrylic colours and iron pens.

Talking about his project, Viet Cuong said: “When the city was put under the social distancing rules, I just hung around in my house all day. My contact with the outside world was limited. I felt like I was living in a real box and I thought people around me were also in the same situation. Therefore, I named my project ‘Saigon Box’.”

Previously, Cuong usually used cardboard for drawing sketches. However, during the social distancing period when life depended entirely on transported goods, there were many boxes of instant noodles, beer and toys, with different sizes and symbols. He decided to choose cardboard boxes to express his ideas. Making use of and arranging colours, patterns, labels, symbols, logos, barcodes and adhesive tapes, Viet Cuong emphasised the message of each artwork and conveyed a perspective of life his own way.

Painter Nguyen Viet Cuong. (Photo courtesy of Cuong)

Each work from the “Saigon Box” is a story recording daily activities during the time of social distancing while clearly depicting the soul of people.

He named his first work “Cua so” (Window) because the window was the only way he could observe the outside world and feel the atmosphere of the city at the same time. Featuring black and white windows on a yellow background of cartons, Viet Cuong wished to help viewers balance their visuals. His work titled “Let’s Go”, using a 25 cm x 25 cm carton of Lego, the painter aimed to honour doctors and medical staff on the frontline against the pandemic while conveying a message of the battle against the epidemic.

For painters like Viet Cuong, the pandemic has affected their creative thinking but it has been an “opportunity” for them to focus on creation and seeing things more deeply. Witnessing the traumatic stories happening around, including the loss of friends and relatives, the artists have certainly always been concerned about life. However, it was also the motivation for them to explore their own abilities. In the flow of life, painters are witnesses recording historical events in the most authentic and emotional way possible by different means.

Cuong’s paintings have been inspiring viewers about a brighter tomorrow. So far, his project consists of 20 paintings of different sizes. Viet Cuong is still observing and composing new works in accordance with the development of the epidemic and society. His artworks are expected to be displayed when the city returns to normal.

Ngoc Lien
Translated by NDO