The two artists used the same material - cardboard boxes - but they, with different thoughts and different methods, have brought about different perspectives on the same topic "Venus in Vietnam". The exhibition is held at the Goethe Institute, Hanoi.

Vietnamese art lovers know Vu Dan Tan - the only son of well-known playwright Vu Dinh Long - as a monument, a pioneer in the visual arts.

Since the 80s, he created artworks on a variety of materials, with the expansion, crossing the boundaries of artistic dispositions, or the norms of modern, postmodern art. His works since then have brought the criteria and nature of which was later known as contemporary art.

From 2000 until his death (2009), Vu Dan Tan created a series of three-dimensional works, using cigarette packs, cardboard, focusing on the topic of women.

These artworks are preserved by Tan’s wife, Natalia Kraevskaia, at her Salon Natasha. Some works were exhibited at the Sculpture Exhibition in Germany in 2001, or in Japan, and the Netherlands. The Singapore Art Museum has acquired and exhibited some works in this series.

The exhibition "Venus in Vietnam" introduces a part in the two series of artworks by Vu Dan Tan: Fashion and Venus.

In the series of works on Venus, Vu Dan Tan cut cigarette packs and used ink, synthetic paints to create Venuses. These Venuses are mostly headless, naked, placed in the glass boxes (used to sell tobacco at sidewalk cafes).

According to Ms. Iola Lenzi - international expert on Southeast Asian art, the Venuses of Vu Dan Tan fit in the culture of both the East and the West.

"Lovely in their boxes, these Venuses are the reply to ideology of classical Western culture and the ultimate perfection, the metaphor of the divine intellect ... But through the lens of Oriental aesthetics, the glass boxes are careful intention in order to create distance, and prevent the confusion that the works can cause for the viewers ... ".

In the series "Fashion", Vu Dan Tan trimmed cardboard boxes carefully to create three-dimensional works with yellow color (of the new carton). The size of these works is equivalent to the real human and they are placed on tables, or hung on hangers and the drying rigs. They do not have faces, but they are female characters with full chest, typical curve...

Following the series of works by Vu Dan Tan, the works by Nguyen Nghia Cuong, the artist of the next generation (born in 1973) are also created from old cardboard boxes.

In the opening of the exhibition, Nghia Cuong said previously he frequented the Salon Natasha and witnessed the late artist Vu Dan Tan huddling with pieces of cardboard to create his Venuses.

The late artist also stated that his works and the works on newspapers by Nghia Cuong have much in common. It is an incentive, encouragement to Nghia Cuong to go to the exhibition today.

Though being influenced by Vu Dan Tan, Nghia Cuong still has his own access. He did not trim, shape, but only drew the silhouette of women on carton boxes.

The series of artworks called "High-quality Beauty" was composed by Nghia Cuong from 2008 to the present. They are acrylic and ink drawings on carton boxes, depicting naked women, and the body language of each Venus depending on the shape of the box.

This artist deliberately used the logo of brands on boxes, harmoniously combining them with paint to create artworks. It is an implication of the problems in society: gender-sexuality and consumer culture.

"Venuses in Vietnam" is not only beautiful, creative, sexy visual works but also poses many ideological, social problems, as Iola said, the works – these Venuses - are powerful brokers of liberal ideas.

VietNamNet Bridge - October 9, 2012