Sophie’s Art Tour Hanoi Guide Fabiola Buchele talking at The Vietnamese Museum of Fine Art. Photo by Sophie Hughes
Sophie’s Art Tour arives in Hanoi, promising not only a boost in local artistic expression but also connecting folks to Vietnam’s long, checkered past.Learning Vietnamese history can be a daunting experience. With so many international influences and incidents to take into consideration, trying to educate oneself about the long and turbulent past is not an easy task. After four consecutive years of critical praise in Ho Chi Minh City, Sophie’s Art Tour has finally arrived in Hanoi to creatively lead us through the last century of artistic expression.
The tour explores the major shifts in society, from the opening of the first arts university during the French colonial times, through the two cataclysmic wars and finally concludes with the optimistic emergence of Vietnam’s contemporary fine art scene today.
Sophie’s Art Tour (+84(0)168 7962575, +84(0)90 6568338 // firstname.lastname@example.org // www.sophiesarttour.com) was established in 2011 by British art lover Sophie Hughes, who currently works in Ho Chi Minh. Sophie has since collaborated with many acclaimed artists, researchers, curators, and galleries to make Sophie’s Art Tour the triumph it is today.After seven months of primary research, the tour was launched in Hanoi by enthusiastic arts and culture journalist, Fabiola Buchele (Austria), and Bill Nguyen (Vietnam), a UK educated fine artist and co-founder at Hanoi’s leading independent contemporary gallery space Manzi.
The tour starts at a local arts café with a 30- minute introduction. Over coffee, participants will learn the morning’s itinerary, before moving on. The first stop is the Vietnamese Museum of Fine Arts, where you will learn about the French Indochina influence on educating and encouraging Vietnamese artisans to explore the concept of self-expression alongside experimenting with new and traditional techniques.
From there, the guide takes a close look at how the government utilized the same artists for propaganda purposes in order to rally the population to join the war efforts from the 1940s – 1970s. The second half of the schedule invites you into the intimate alternative art space, Salon Natasha, where Russian founder Natalia Kraevskaia, is working alongside with the Asian Art Archive to document her late husband’s (Vu Dan Tan — 1946-2009) artworks and exhibitions between 1990 and 2005.The excursion concludes at Hanoi’s recently opened Creative City, where on the 15th floor you will visit the new residence of the Nha San Collective. As one of Vietnam’s few experimental organizations for emerging contemporary fine artists today, the participants are seated for a final presentation, followed by a discussion regarding the future of Vietnamese art.
The walking tour is a fascinating insight of Vietnam’s history explained through a visual and verbal presentation of academic research and personal accounts. Stories are sensitively shared alongside the art works and in the workspaces of the artists who lived, learnt, fought, protested, and documented their turbulent times.
Sophie’s Art Tour manages to translate a remarkable breadth of knowledge into a visually stimulating and educational exploration concerning the events that have shaped Vietnamese arts and culture today. The guides give a much-needed historical context to important works that often have English captions excluded from exhibitions.
Sophie’s Art Tour Hanoi not only explores the amalgamation of international impressions left after many gruesome wars but also the currently evolving new generation of contemporary artists pushing through the politics and policies to find their place on the international art circuit today.
Tours cost US$55 per person and run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, for groups of 2-10 people. Tours are available in English and German, or with French and Spanish translators available for an additional fee.