Gianpaolo Arena - My Vietnam

Opening: May 22, 2014 from 19:00
Anteprima d'arte Contemporanea - Rome
by Camilla Boemio


In 1968, in the middle of the Vietnam War an apocalyptic scenario was portrayed to the world, masterfully depicted in 'Apocalypse Now' by Francis Ford Coppola, in 'Platoon' and 'Born on the Fourth of July' by Oliver Stone and in 'Full Metal Jacket' by Stanley Kubrick - the vivid scenes of violence reveals a symbolic clash of defeat, a scream of a generation against war, countless political divisions of a West that bends and an East Asia that enters in the collective memory.
Vietnam becomes an icon. Remembering and talking about it turns on a deep wound. If democracy in the United States is being challenged, as never before
now, Vietnam becomes the impenetrable undisputed example of a certain imagination.
The appeal and fear of the unknown has been passed on to us, developing 
an aesthetic and a deep sense of mystery.
Made of long silences interrupted by the noise of scooters and by the feverish 
circulation, returning in extensive landscapes in which you get lost in rice fields or frenetic city streets, between faces of people, until you reach a boat that slowly goes up the river - explaining a country, perhaps allowing you to discover another one ,  is a masterful tale  realized  ​​from Arena of today’s Vietnam.
His journey is the journey of a Westerner who finds himself, describing what he sees by strongly revealing his intimacy during an inner journey in which documentations and visions of a landscape, of  it’s people and their customs converge – sometimes sublimely-.
In his Vietnam, there is a personal imagery in which at times the fog, and 
scenarios, of East Asia converge with Veneto,( the Italian Region). I cannot stop my self  lingering on the image of a woman staring at the horizon, through the branches of a tree, we do not see her face, but only her beautiful raven-black moving hair , telling us about: pauses, unknown spaces and unexplored stories.
All the faces of the protagonists, in Arena’s photos, are distant presences, they are secondary actors of a romantic continent. 
On the contrary the landscapes recall the documentation of: cultural, 
political, personal implications and the radical transformations of the Vietnamese community. The result is a reading experience that gives the feeling of digging beneath the surface of these images, revealing not only the nature landscape photography but the essence of a territory.
The photograph has been seen in two radically different lenses: either as 
alert and precise act of knowledge, of intelligence awareness, or as a way of intuitive meeting, pre - intellectual. The second case is the one in which Arena gets
close to Vietnam, the intuition leads him to show us a heroic effort of attention, with an ascetic discipline, and a mystical receptivity of the world by imposing the photographer to switch to a cloud of unawareness.
The landscapes tells us about a Vietnam, sometimes sorrowful, sometimes colorful and mysterious. The great urban and landscapes emptiness  are interspersed with the density and the chaos of big cities. We are projected on a journey in which the immortalized subjects feed aesthetic awareness and encourage emotional detachment; revealing a lack of time.