Born in 1921 in Quang Tri (60 kilometres from Hue), Lê Bá Đảng grew up in a fairly wealthy family during the last feudal dynasty and the French colonial period of Vietnam. Once finishing his primary education at 18, he sensed a desire to move to France and worked in a French factory producing arms and munitions. During the second world war, he found himself twice in police custody and sentenced to time in refugee camps and prison. It wasn’t until after the end of the war that France was a more friendly environment to his migration. He soon after enrolled into an art course in Toulouse. It was here that Lê Bá Đảng's natural talent for art was acknowledged and developed.
June 2019 mark the opening of Hue’s newest art gallery Memory Space; a collection of works prolific Vietnamese artist Lê Bá Đảng. As Hue refines its reputation as the cultural heritage capital of Vietnam, Memory Space might be Hue’s most impressive gallery to date.
Who is Lê Bá Đảng?
When Lê Bá Đảng reached his thirties, art galleries around France began to hold his exhibitions. His first works were heavily inspired by recollections of country and self-identity. Family portraits, agricultural settings and scenes from wartime Vietnam made up a large proportion of his work.
By the 1960s and 1970s, his work received invitations for exhibitions further afield in Europe and the USA. He became more experimental with the forms his art took. The themes darted between the realities of war and the surrealism of mythology.
Once Vietnam had reached reunification, Lê Bá Đảng returned to his home town in Quang Tri to help in bringing his community back together.
With the unfortunate death of his son at the start of the 1980s, Lê Bá Đảng’s art took a shift closer towards existentialism and the worth of life. As he got older, these existential pieces became more worldly, space-dimensional and even spiritual.
On his passing in 2015, a funeral was held in paris as well as several locations around Vietnam.
Lê Bá Đảng’s art demonstrates a pursuit to a greater understanding of the meaning of life. While his work goes beyond our own world and into fictitious realms, he frequently incorporated beliefs of his native country of Vietnam such as the kitchen God Ong Tao and depictions of Buddha.
The Story of Lê Bá Đảng's Memory Space
During his lifetime, Lê Bá Đảng expressed a vision for a space that would serve for the creativity and imaginations of those that wondered the dimensions of art. A paradise for artists to meet and discuss not only the works of Lê Bá Đảng but the works and ideas of other artists too. Although Lê Bá Đảng’s passing in 2015 left his dream unfulfilled, his assistant Mrs Le Cam Te made it her own undertaking. She has spent the past 4 years working tirelessly to bring the artist’s vision to reality.
With the support ofLê Bá Đảng’s wife Mrs. Myshu, Mrs. Cam Te began by acquiring the spacious land atop of a hill in Huong Thuy, Hue. After numerous discussions with architects and designers, the main building of Memory Space was carefully constructed to closely resemble the shape of one Lê Bá Đảng’s paper artworks. To bring the new gallery closer to the ideals of an ‘artists’ paradise’, Mrs. Cam Te put extra emphasis on the shrubbery of the landscape to provide additional spaces for the conversations and meetings of guests to Memory Space.
While the main exhibition at Memory Space consists of works by Lê Bá Đảng entrusted and given to Mrs Cam Te over the final years of the artist’s life, there are plans to host temporary exhibitions and performances from the local Hue art community. We are very excited to see what the future holds for Memory Space.
How to Get to Memory Space: Le Ba Dang
Memory Space: Lê Bá Đảng is some way out of the city, closer to the Abandoned Waterpark and Khai Dinh Tomb. At the time of writing, there is no google maps marker or website. This google maps link is approximately where it is located. Around this area you will see signs directing you to the Memory Space: Lê Bá Đảng museum.
Opening times are 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00.