a. How do you look at the ancient Vietnamese lacquer art before 20th century Do you think there are any connections between ancient and modern lacquer art in Vietnam?
Most people see lacquer as a traditional medium marked by a definite past and present, but I am more interested in it as a medium of continuity between the past and the present and the future. For example, in Vietnam lacquer is an important cultural medium that has marked upon its body and usage every major social change throughout Vietnamese society. The change between lacquer as a utilitarian medium to lacquer becoming painting or image is a relevant one that bespeaks a fundamental change in Vietnamese society.
Lacquer as painting, lacquer becoming image, or lacquer, as a means of expressing the subject, is the hinge of acculturation uniting Vietnamese art with European art in the 20th century. From the moment that son ta, a functional and utilitarian substance, becomes son mai, a painting technique of an expressive nature, it begins to take part in a relationship between subject and object, content and representation. From this moment, Vietnamese lacquer painting is joined to a wider genealogy of painting in the world. This continuity of lacquer towards painting is what interests me. As the practice of painting through the 20th century from modernism and up to our contemporary period has expanded and developed into many forms including into a mode of philosophical thought and inquiry. I am interested in this aspect of the future of lacquer painting-- to develop a broader more interpretive strategy of approaching son mai as image tied to locality but with its own particularities. Being such a unique substance in rapidly changing context, I believe as a medium it has much to contribute to the field of painting. My interest in son mai is in expanding the a multiplicity of interpretations and its use as a lens through which to view and respond to urgent questions about, environment, identity and experience, memory, the nature of territory, and yes even about tradition and history.