Gallery Hopping in Vientiane

Step into any of Vientiane’s ornate temples and it’s clear that the Lao capital has kept an astounding artistic tradition alive. But where is the capital’s contemporary art? Sabaidee Magazine explores Vientiane’s small but spirited gallery scene to see how a few ambitious artists and curators are creating Vientiane’s own little art world.

Words by Sarah Ball.

T’Shop Lai Gallery
When Michel Saada arrived in Vientiane from France 21 years ago his plan was to stay for one week of holiday. Instead he had found his new home and the source of inspiration for the shop he founded, T’Shop Lai Gallery. Over the years Michel has explored a multitude of creative pursuits, from woodworking to painting to botany, and expertly parlayed his interests into his eclectic business. Today the shop focuses on natural skincare products and botanicals under the house label Les Artisans Lao, art and handicrafts from local artists and Michel’s own designs including furniture built from reclaimed wood and unexpected materials like eggshell and coconut. An upper-level gallery space hosts exhibitions and displays art from local and international artists year-round.

Photo caption: T’Shop Lai Gallery. Photo by Sarah Ball.

T: 021 223 178, A: Vat Inpeng Street, Ban Mixay E: contact@laococo.com, W: www.laococo.com/tshoplai.htm
T'Shop Lai Gallery

i:cat gallery
Stepping in to i:cat gallery feels like bridging two worlds. The white walls and crisp lighting invoke galleries of America or Europe, while the art on display has a distinctly Lao appearance. It’s no surprise to learn that i:cat gallery’s founder, Catherine O’Brien, has a background in fine arts and is passionate about introducing Lao artists to this world. Catherine has ties to the National School of Fine Arts and gives the graduates a place to display their work. “It’s difficult for Lao artists to get exposure,” she says, “and difficult to sell art in Laos.” Catherine encourages local artists to tap in to their own creativity as well as traditional art, which will be lost if the artists choose not to pursue them. i:cat also holds ‘Dialogues’ where experts host conversations related to current exhibitions.

Photo caption: i:cat gallery. Photo courtesy i:cat gallery.

T: 020 7783 9674, A: 16/230-231 Setthathirath Road, Ban Simeuang (next to Nudle Takeaway), E: i.catgallery@gmail.com, W: www.facebook.com/icatgallery

iCat Gallery

 

Cubic Gallery
An up-and-comer on the Vientiane gallery scene, Cubic Gallery is one of the few Lao-owned galleries in town and was founded two years ago by painter and collage artist Hongsa Khodsouvanh. Situated in a snug little downtown storefront, it’s across the street from Vat Ong Teu. Hongsa says he chose to open a gallery in this location because he wanted visitors to see that there is more to Lao art than the ubiquitous paintings of monks and Bodhi trees. Standing in the doorway, it’s impossible to miss these souvenir paintings across the street, blowing in the breeze for tourists walking by the temple. But passers-by seem more compelled by the vibrant watercolours and vivid portraits within Cubic Gallery and dozens pop in to examine them. Hongsa is excited for the future of the gallery, he’s working on some new collage pieces in his on-site studio and will be collaborating with a museum in Japan to curate an exhibition of traditional Lao art and textiles, taking his mission to share Lao art with the world to greater heights.

Photo caption: Cubic Gallery. Photo by Sarah Ball.

T: 020 5569 8684, A: 086/8 Setthathirath Road, Ban Haisoke, E: k.hongsa@yahoo.com

Cubic Gallery Vientiane
M Gallery

M Gallery is the place to find paintings by the top names in contemporary Lao art. Founded in 2008, M Gallery is a Singaporean enterprise with branches in Singapore and Vientiane. The chicly minimalist gallery space befits a large cosmopolitan capital like Singapore, as do the bold and energetic paintings that adorn the walls. The art speaks for itself and the technical skill and artistry on display here are unrivalled. M Gallery specialises in representing Lao’s most prominent artists internationally as well as some up and coming artists from Thailand and Vietnam. Their aim is to bring an understanding of contemporary South East Asian art to a broader audience and to support the development of these artists through workshops and residency programmes.

Photo caption: Artwork detail: Oil on canvas by Marisa Darasavath, a Lao artist represented by M Gallery from her exhibit at the Singapore Art Museum for the Singapore Biennale 2013.

T: 021 214 765, A: 133 Samsenthai Road, Ban Anou, E: art@mgallery.com.sg, W: www.mgallery.com.sg

 2-Gallery_M Gallery

This article was originally printed in Sabaidee Magazine, Issue 14, March 2014. You can pick up Sabaidee Magazine free from cafes, restaurants, spas and hotels across Vientiane, and stay up to date with their latest articles and local events through their Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/sabaideemagazine.

 

 

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T'Shop Lai Gallery

 

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iCat Gallery
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Cubic Gallery Vientiane

 

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2-Gallery_M Gallery