Designer installs a communal house at French art center

By Huong Giang    June 15, 2019 | 06:00 pm PT
Designer installs a communal house at French art center
Thuy Nguyen’s artwork Silver Room is currently on display at Château La Coste. Photo acquired by Ngoisao.
Thuy Nguyen has become the first Vietnamese artist to have an an art installation presented at France’s Château La Coste.

Thuy Nguyen’s Silver Room, currently on display at the center, is a large installation work, combining the design of a  Rong house, a traditional communal house in the Central Highlands, the silver inlay technique in traditional lacquer art, and carvings on quartz stone and jackfruit wood.

The artwork is life-sized, with a height of 16.2 meters, width of 6 meters and length of 14.9 meters.

Thuy Nguyen said that her partner, Ynut, an artisan from the Bana ethnic community, had spent 10 months seeking the appropriate wood to construct the art piece. The 26 house pillars and the floor are made from 1,300 cubic meters of Shorea roxburghii wood.

The open roof structure is crafted from old bamboo poles 4 to 12 meters long. All joints in the house are tied with ropes; no nails have been used. Only Ynut knows how to build the roof and tie the bamboo knots. The open roof design and intentionally crafted gaps between the wooden pillars create a pattern of light and shadow for the house. Inside the house is a silver inlay room, with a Buddha statue.

"The house has a small door with a high threshold, so viewers have to lift their feet and bow when entering the house. They can thus show respect for the white quartz Buddha statue placed in the room," said Thuy Nguyen.  "The viewers can catch the moment a sun ray passes through the door, illuminating the statue, creating a halo", the artist said.

It took Thuy Nguyen three years to study and make this art piece, she said. "I want to introduce the beauty of the communal house architecture of Central Highlands peoples to an international audience," Thuy Nguyen said.

Thuy Nguyen, born in 1981 in Hanoi, graduated from Vietnam Fine Arts University in 2006 and did her graduate study in National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture in Kiev, Ukraine. She is also well-known as a fashion designer, designing  costumes for several films including Co Ba Sai Gon (The Tailor) or Tam Cam: Chuyen Chua Ke (Tam Cam: The Untold Story).

Château La Coste is a complex of vineyards, art museums, resorts and restaurants  built by Patrick McKillen in 2012. Located in Aix-en-Provence in France, this complex brings together the designs of famous French architects.

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