Born in 1954 in Hanoi, Binh graduated from the Hanoi College of Art, now the Vietnam University of Fine Arts, in 1972. Binh has engaged in many international arts events and his paintings have been exhibited in Europe, Asia and the US.
In an interview granted to Nhan Dan (People) Weekly Newspaper, Binh talked about his thoughts and the challenges facing those working in creative careers.
Question: You are one of 20 painters invited to join the ‘Exhibition displaying artwork from leading contemporary Vietnamese artists on the art market’, organised by the Department of Art, Photography, and Exhibitions under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It seems that the event, a rare such occasion, is official recognition for painters whose artworks are marketable. Can you tell us more about the event?
Painter Nguyen Thanh Binh: The title ‘Exhibition displaying artwork from leading contemporary Vietnamese artists on the art market’ is a little bit confusing as it could cause misunderstandings amongst people. In my opinion, the marketability of an artwork is not a criterion upon which to judge an artist but the result of his work process. What you get is the result of how you work.
It is not necessary to honour marketable artworks. Unlike the normal market where goods are produced to meet customers’ needs, the market for paintings and publications is often lagging behind.
One of the popular misunderstanding among those who are working i creative careers in Vietnam is that they design their artworks to be marketable but few of them curate their works solely to be beautiful.
It can be said that influencing, imitating, and even copying styles of accredited painters is popular in Vietnam’s fine arts. Many of your paintings are copied and imitated. Do you have any words for painters who copied other painters?
The crowd often want to enjoy the glory of success rather than spend time figuring out how to get success. Young artists are abundant with energy but lack patience. They may know a lot of things, but are not deep learners.
In my opinion, creativity is not all about creating whole new things nor imitating what have been created. Instead, it is the process of adding a different “value” to existing things. Young artists must overcome their cursory approach in creativity, and keep trying to achieve in the arts. You only fail when you stop trying.
Do you think that the price of Vietnamese painters’ artwork is higher than the average income of people?
It is difficult to discuss this issue. People’s income is not the point, but it is the stability and development of the country’s culture as well as people’s tastes that is more important. Cultural background and economic status have a strong relationship and influence each other.
There are different groups of art viewers, some of them just want to admire the artwork, but others want to possess it.
You have been highly appreciated by art critics and viewers for your distinct personal style. How a painter can develop their own style in their career, in your opinion?
There is a saying that “If you never try, you will never know!” You have to work to the best of your ability, to try every option, and think differently rather than following a stereotype. You should think outside of the box and rise above failures.
There is no success waiting for you right at the starting line. The art journey is long and full of challenges. It is not a journey full of flowers as no glory comes without effort.
Thank you so much for your sharing!
Selected paintings by painter Nguyen Thanh Binh.