An exhibition showcasing the reproduction of propaganda artworks created between 1969 and 1972 by the late celebrated Cuban graphic arist René Mederos.
Beside the reproduction of propaganda artworks by René Mederos, the exhibition also have art pieces by five established contemporary Vietnamese artists. This exhibition showcasing eighteen archival prints of the paintings/posters that Mederos created during his two visits to Vietnam is the first time they are exhibited in Vietnam since their initial display in the country.
The works are drawn from two social justice poster collections based in California, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles (directed by Carol Wells) and the Docs Populi Archive in Berkeley (directed by Lincoln Cushing).
The exhibition is taking place thanks to the efforts of Mederos' grandson Marcelo Brociner alongside the assistance of these organisations. Marcelo wants to bring his grandfather's work back to Vietnam ever since he himself visited the country for an internship at Work Room Four in 2016.
In 1969 René Mederos (1933 - 1996) was sent by the Cuban government to Vietnam to paint scenes of the war in both North and South Vietnam. Mederos travelled with soldiers and villagers along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, living and working with the Vietnamese community.
He returned to Vietnam in 1972, and once again painted images of the Vietnamese resistance, often at great personal risk. During his two trips to Vietnam, Mederos amassed a collection of over three-dozen works of various sizes, depicting the grassroots revolutionary movement of the Vietnamese in vibrant, detailed paintings.
Mederos' work aimed to demonstrate solidarity that the Cuban people felt for the Vietnamese people, rather than to glorify war. Over the years, his paintings and posters of the war have been displayed by anti-war organisations and in art galleries around the world.
Complementing the show will be the works of five contemporary Vietnamese artists, who will create artworks in response to Mederos’ work. By inviting Le Quy Tong, Nguyen The Son, Nguyen Nghia Cuong, Pham Khac Quang and Giang Nguyen to participate in the exhibition, not only will a past Vietnam be represented through the Mederos work, but also reflections on contemporary Vietnamese society and their reactions to past and present will be shown from the perspective of these five artists.
With the inclusion of these two contrasting yet equally important narratives, this exhibition will create a space for a dialogue focusing on the legacy of Mederos’ work as seen through the eyes of 21st century Vietnamese Artists. This exhibition brings the focus away from conflict to a space of collaboration and solidarity.