HONGSA KHOTSOUVANH, Still Working – Why Not, 2013, newspaper and collage on paper, 130 × 150 cm. Courtesy Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center, Tokyo.


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One of the five remaining communist states, Laos lags behind its neighbors in infrastructure. The majority of cultural funding is devoted to the preservation of the nation’s Buddhist heritage.

The National Institute of Fine Arts (NIFA), which runs art schools in Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and the capital Vientiane, held an exhibition of new paintings by students (1/13) following workshops conducted by French artist Silvère Jarrosson. NIFA also houses the state-run Lao Fine Arts Association, which aims to increase opportunities for qualified artisans.

Institut Français’s station in Vientiane promotes cultural exchanges in the visual and performing arts, and held a solo show of graphic drawings and paintings by French-Canadian artist Guy Delisle (11/6–21). The Eastern Art Gallery and Academy hosted “Along the Road” (5/19–31), an exhibition of candid photos of street life in Laos by German photographer Jens Dorre. The artist-run Mask Gallery, also known as the Maison de la Culture de Ban Naxay, supports local and emerging practitioners.

Artist-run I:cat Gallery’s held a solo exhibition of ethereal and meditative paintings alongside ink and pastel works by Lao-Canadian artist Thép Thavonsoukm titled “Harmony, Monsoon Country Revisited” (2/11–28), and “Interchange” (4/6–5/5), which presented an audiovisual portrait of the Mekong River via works by six local and international photographers. Later in the year was Kiyoko Maki’s solo show of sculptural and installation works created from handspun Lao cotton (10/28–11/25).

In the region, new-media artist Souliya Phoumivong participated in “The Making of an Institution” (2/11–5/7) at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore. At the Singapore Art Museum, “Imaginarium: To the Ends of the Earth” (5/6–8/27) featured a bomb-casing-turned-flowerpot by Bounpaul Phothyzan. At the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta, the group show “Mutual Unknown” (6/2–17) included Noy Xayatham, who teaches at NIFA. “Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now” (7/5–10/23) at the Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center, Tokyo, featured May Chandavong and Hongsa Khotsouvanh. “Pali Sound” (9/26–10/21) at the Niagara Galleries in Melbourne featured the textured paintings of Savanhdary Vongpoothorn.

Artist couple Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier took part in the regional group exhibition “Mekong: New Mythologies” (5/5–21) in Hong Kong. In Canada, their large-scale sculpture, Dream House (2013), won an Award of Merit at the Toronto Urban Design Awards.

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