The project “Saigon Box” celebrates the brave doctors, medical workers, shippers, volunteers, and individuals who have received donations and vaccines during the ongoing pandemic. Additionally, it pays tribute to the talented artists who have performed at field hospitals. Created by artist Nguyen Viet Cuong, born in 1989 in Ho Chi Minh City, this project emerged in response to the implementation of social distancing measures in the city. Through his keen observations and the information gathered from media sources, Cuong beautifully captured the essence of life during this challenging period on cardboard using acrylic colors and iron pens.

In reference to his project, Viet Cuong expressed, “During the period of social distancing regulations, I found myself confined to my house for the majority of the day. Limited interaction with the outside world made me feel as though I was enclosed within a physical box. I believed others shared this experience as well, which led me to name my project ‘Saigon Box’.”

Cuong formerly utilized cardboard to create sketches. However, amidst the period of social distancing, where reliance on transported goods was paramount, an abundance of variously-sized cardboard boxes adorned with symbols became available, including those for instant noodles, beer, and toys. Recognizing an opportunity, Cuong decided to employ these cardboard boxes as mediums for expressing his ideas. By skillfully utilizing and arranging colors, patterns, labels, symbols, logos, barcodes, and adhesive tapes, Cuong expertly accentuated the message of each artwork, and artistically conveyed his unique perspective on life.

Painter Nguyen Viet Cuong. (Photo credit: Cuong)

The art collection titled “Saigon Box” showcases an array of captivating stories that chronicle the mundane yet profound moments experienced during the period of social distancing, beautifully encapsulating the essence of humanity.

He titled his initial piece “Cua so” (Window) as it represented his only means of observing the outside world and immersing himself in the city’s ambiance. Utilizing black and white windows against a vibrant yellow cardboard backdrop, Viet Cuong aimed to offer viewers a sense of visual harmony. His creation “Let’s Go” featured a 25 cm x 25 cm Lego cardboard, intended to pay tribute to doctors and healthcare workers on the front lines battling the pandemic, along with conveying a message of resilience in the face of the epidemic.

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The Influence of the Pandemic on Artists

For artists like Viet Cuong, the global pandemic has had a profound impact on their creative process. While they have faced challenges in their thinking, they have also viewed this period as an opportunity to delve deeper into their work and gain a heightened sense of perspective. As observers of the world around them, painters are uniquely positioned to capture the essence of historical events through their artistic expressions, conveying the authentic emotions and stories that unfold.

Cuong’s artwork has captivated audiences, delivering a profound sense of hope for a brighter future. Presently, his project comprises of an impressive collection of 20 paintings varying in size. Viet Cuong continues to observe and create new masterpieces in response to the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and society. We eagerly anticipate showcasing his extraordinary artwork once our city returns to its usual state.