By Clara Cheong
(470 words, 5-minute read)
A Present Retrospective, an exhibition showcasing archival prints of propaganda artworks created between 1969 and 1972, by the late and widely renowned Cuban graphic artist René Mederos, is on show at Work Room Four, alongside works by five other established contemporary Vietnamese artists in response to the series.
Felix René Medero, a self-taught illustrator, started out as a graphic designer at the tender age of 10. By the time he was 15, he was appointed Head Designer at the Cuban television station Intercommunications. It was there that he developed his distinct graphic style of vibrant colours and sharp contours in the posters.
In 1969, Mederos was appointed by the Cuban government to paint the scenes of the Vietnamese resistance war between the North and South. During this period, Mederos travelled with soldiers and villagers along Ho Chi Minh, living and working together with the Vietnamese community.
These vibrant and detailed paintings depicted the grassroots revolutionary movement of the Vietnamese. They have since been exhibited by anti-war organizations and art galleries around the world.
Mederos passed away in Cuba on the 24th of September 1996.
The exhibition features 18 archival prints of the paintings and posers that Mederos created during his two visits to Vietnam. Through the collaborative efforts of his grandson Marcelo Brociner and the assistance of both Carol Wells and Lincoln Cushings – directors of Center for the Study of Political Graphics and Docs Populi Archive in Berkeley respectively – who knew and actively promoted Mederos’ works through essays, lectures, books and exhibition, this will be the first time that they will be exhibited in Vietnam since their initial display.
Mederos’ work will be accompanied by the works of 5 contemporary Vietnamese artists (Le Quy Tong, Nguyen The Son, Nguyen Nghia Cuong, Pham Khac Quang and Giang Nguyen) whose artworks were created as a response to Mederos’ work as well as a reflection on contemporary Vietnamese society.
As a retaliation to the conflict, and solidarity against the war, the collaborative efforts of this exhibition with its two contrasting narratives of past and present aims to inspire, prompt, and act as a space for dialogue focused on the legacy of Mederos’ work through the perspectives of Vietnamese artists of the 21st Century.
A Present Retrospective is on show at Work Room Four in Hanoi, daily from 16 May to 12 June, 10am – 6pm. Visit their Facebook page for more pictures and information.
Address: Packexim Building, Tower 1, 24th Floor, An Duong Vuong Street, Tay Ho, Hanoi