BackArts & Culture » Music & Art » On an Eerie Night Tour Through Hell at 'Hù: Quả Báo' Art Exhibition

On an Eerie Night Tour Through Hell at 'Hù: Quả Báo' Art Exhibition

Have you ever wondered how those who steal designs or borrow without returning would repent for their sins in hell?

A fantastical purgatory for a range of very contemporary misdeeds is the main attraction at the ongoing art exhibition “Hù: Quả Báo” (literally Boo: Karma)

In the project’s first phase, which took place from September to October, Saigon’s unique risograph print studio Khô Mực launched a call for original artworks from local illustrators reflecting their own experience with modern “sins,” resulting in nearly 200 submissions from across Vietnam. Hù is the spiritual continuation of the studio’s "Đi Đêm Có Ngày Gặp Ma" event, which took place during Halloween 2020. While last year’s exhibition focused on exploring preternatural beings in Vietnamese folklore, this year’s is much more rooted in current youth culture.

Sin — Demanding numerous edits and then picking the first draft / Punishment — Reincarnating as a cow, spending an eternity ruminating. Art by Kamoufish.

Sin — Stealing a quail egg from a friend’s bánh tráng trộn / Punishment — Reincarnating as a rancid egg. Art by GILJINN.

According to Minh Ngọc, the exhibition’s communication liaison, “'Hù: Quả Báo' wants to collaborate with young illustrators in reimagining the role of the purgatory in traditional Vietnamese culture. It’s how we express our interest in today’s social issues: globalization, mechanization, digitization, moral degradation, materialism, etc. This purgatory does not seek to educate or discipline, but only to present the moral conundrums based on a karmic framework, so everyone can observe and assess objectively.”

The entries show a cheeky and highly practical perspective on common problems plaguing the lives of young urbanites: overworking, copyright infringement, malicious gossip; or hot-button social issues like charity funding embezzlement, violence against women, theft, prevalent plastic use, etc.

Sin: Indiscriminate plastic bag use / Punishment: Reincarnating as a condom. Art by Thao Pham.

Abusing women / Punishment: Reincarnating as a male praying mantis. Art by Linh Phạm.

Sixty-one standout submissions were picked to be displayed at Hù’s darkroom exhibition space, where guests are each given a pair of green-red flashlights to illuminate the works. Each artwork has two layers of ink in different colors, a special feature achieved by printing with fluorescent ink.

Khô Mực Co-Founder Simon Phan says of the “red reveal” technique employed in the creation of the exhibiting pieces: “This technique is very appropriate for this year’s theme because the two green-red layers represent a connection and contrast between the sins and their corresponding punishment. This is also an interesting visual effect we achieve with risographic prints so participants can interact with the artworks.”

The exhibition is taking place at the Meander Saigon Hostel in District 1, instead of inside Khô Mực’s own studio like last year. The additional space allows organizers to distribute the artworks in three “levels of hell,” housing three main categories of sins: Love-Money-Crime. The event also creates an opportunity for young designers, who often deal with digital tools, to learn about physical printing techniques in a tactile way.

“Hù: Quả Báo” is on display from now until December 28, 2021 from 10am to 10pm every day at 3B Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1. A virtual exhibition is slated for an online launch on December 22. More information is available here.

Saigoneer is a media partner of "Hù: Quả Báo."

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