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An Interview with Le Quang Ha Le Quang Ha is a trailblazer, and a titan of the Vietnamese contemporary art scene. He paints, sculpts, designs...

An Interview with Le Quang Ha

An Interview with Le Quang Ha

Le Quang Ha is a trailblazer, and a titan of the Vietnamese contemporary art scene. He paints, sculpts, designs and imagines complete spaces into something unexpected. He answers to no one but himself, but was kind enough to sit down with us one afternoon at Factory and answer some of our question

Bui Gallery: You’ve just redecorated Factory with some of your new works. Can you talk about your inspirations and methods and what these pieces might mean to the viewer?

Le Quang Ha: I don’t want my life to be simple; no two days should be the same. I put my uncertainty about the future into this new series. Yes they are sculptures, but what is sculpture? I am bored of stupid sculpture, so how to make it different? I get my inspiration from everywhere. For example, once I was brought into the police station and questioned for a long time about my projects. At the end, a policeman asked me “What is your plan for the future?” That comment made me feel like vomiting, so my next series was about vomiting! In “Thit Hop” (“Canned Meat”) fat figures are crammed into cylinders bearing the stamp of a factory, with “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” written on the side. Despite the rampant growth of the economy, there is still no freedom. We are trapped. But I don’t like to explain too much about my work.


BG: The space you have created around us is unusual for Hanoi. Can you tell us what your vision for Factory is and why it’s important here?

LQH: Factory was not an easy project. I wanted to create a place for avant-garde art to be shown, since there are not so many exhibition spaces here for this kind of work. It is also, most importantly, a gathering place for art minded people to be outside of business and politics, but look at them critically. Ideally, the art and the dialogue will raise up the people and the culture. It’s not about money. I will change the fate of Hanoi.


BG: A lot of young artists look to you as a leader in the community and someone who helped forge the way for contemporary art in Vietnam. Do you see yourself that way?

LQH: I don’t care about that. When young artists come here, I don’t care if they want to copy me, because I am always looking and moving forward. They should be doing the same thing! But yes, I think that some of them can get power from looking at my work.

BG: What about your perception outside of Vietnam?

LQH: Foreigners who visit Vietnam want to see what is “Asian” or “Vietnamese” or what is traditional in my work, but I don’t care about that. My work is human, not necessarily “Vietnamese.” I don’t need to keep myself or my work in one place or within any borders or boundaries. I am a free man.

BG: Who is your favorite artist?

LQH: Le Quang Ha.

Interview has been condensed and edited.