Nguyen The Son Reflects on 10 Years in the Music Business

The Art Vietnam Salon Gallery is showcasing an enlightening exhibition that captures the evolution of Hanoi from a small city to a bustling metropolis, demonstrating the transformation of the entire Southeast Asian region.


Visual artist Nguyen The Son is taking a retrospective look at his career with an exhibition titled A Decade of Exposure, opening this week at the Art Vietnam Salon Gallery in Hanoi. The show marks a decade of work from the renowned artist, and offers a unique opportunity for viewers to explore the evolution of his practice over the past 10 years. From paintings and sculptures to installations and digital media works, the exhibition offers a comprehensive view of the artist’s journey and creative output.

Son has selected eight photo-reliefs he created ten years ago, and has now taken the same image from the same vantage point in 2023. This provides an interesting comparison of how his subject has changed over a decade.

Witnessing the transformation of the landscape after a decade is an exhilarating experience for the public, but especially for the photographer, as the city plunges into modernity with a seemingly boundless energy and ingenuity. Capturing the changes in a photograph allows the audience to appreciate the progress made and marvel at the sheer magnitude of the transformation, all within the span of a few short years.

As Son ventured through the streets of the city, he encountered a plethora of buildings, ranging from the ancient communal houses and pagodas that had been around for centuries, to the shops and French villas of a more recent past. He was able to observe how the urban landscape was being altered to accommodate modern tastes and lifestyles. By doing so, he was able to gain a unique insight into the evolution of the city.

 Nguyen The Son is a visual artist, curator, and art lecturer. Photo: Hanoi Grapevine

Delicate ironwork on windows and balustrades of old French villas give way to wide modern storefronts displaying the latest fashions and merchandise.

Wooden lanterns and gas lamps have been replaced with dazzling, flashing neon in a variety of vivid colors that offer a mesmerizing display both day and night. Private courtyards have had to make way for the economy of space, transforming into towering multi-story tenements in order to accommodate the influx of migrants from rural areas who are looking to make the most of the booming economy and leave the traditional rice fields and agrarian way of life behind.

“Here and there, we can still catch glimpses of the past,” said Suzanne Lecht, gallery director of Art Vietnam Salon. “A small tea shop nestled in the shadows of the towering apartment buildings, winding its way through the narrow alleyways – it’s a subtle reminder of the vibrant culture of the bygone era.”

Lecht stressed that Son honors the rich past while celebrating the new. He captures the distinctive nature of Vietnamese life, which modulates with changes on the surface but remains steadfast in the spirit and soul of the ancient city of Hanoi.

Based in Hanoi, Nguyen The Son is a renowned visual artist, photographer, curator, and fine arts lecturer. He holds a master’s degree in fine art photography and experimental art from the Hanoi University of Fine Arts, the University of Languages and International Studies, and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA). With an impressive educational background and years of experience, Son has established himself as a leader in the art community.

Son has participated in 20 solo and group exhibitions in Vietnam and around the world. In order to connect contemporary art with public spaces in Hanoi, he has presented public art on Phung Hung Street, an art space in the basement of the National Assembly Building of Vietnam, and the Phuc Tan public art project.

The exhibition runs until July 19 at Art Vietnam Salon Gallery, No. 2, Alley 66, Yen Lac Street, Hanoi.

It is part of the Hanoi Photo’23 Biennale. Nguyen The Son is also the curator of several exhibitions in this event.

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 Bach Mai Street captured in 2012 and 2023.
 Snapshots of Dai La Street captured in 2016 and 2023.
 Snapshots Luong Ngoc Quyen Street captured in 2012 and 2023.