May 2019 saw the opening of Hue’s newest art gallery, Memory Space: a collection of works by prolific Vietnamese-French artist Le Ba Dang. As Hue works closer on refining its reputation as the cultural heritage capital of Vietnam, Memory Space might be the city’s most impressive gallery to date and strengthen’s Hue’s case for more attention from the international art community.
Who is Le Ba Dang?
Born in 1921 in Quang Tri (60 kilometres from Hue), Lê Đảng Bá 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 was to work 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 and enrolled into an art course in Toulouse. It was here that Le Be Dang’s natural talent for art was acknowledged and developed.
When Le Ba Dang reached his thirties, art galleries around France began to hold his exhibitions. His first works were heavily inspired my nostalgia and recollections of country and self-identity. A portrait of his father, agricultural settings and scenes from wartime Vietnam made up a large proportion of his work. By the 1960s and 1970s, his work had received invitations for exhibitions further afield in Europe and the USA. He became more experimental with the forms his art took and the themes darted between the realities of war and the surrealism of mythology. Once Vietnam had reached reunification, Le Ba Dang returned to his home town in Quang Tri to help in bringing his hometown back together.
With the unfortunate death of his son at the start of the 1980s, Le Ba Dang’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.
The Story of Memory Space: Le Ba Dang
Although he spent most of his professional career in France, Le Ba Dang’s art demonstrates a perusal to a greater understanding of the meaning of life and elicit the same questions in his work’s viewers. While his work goes beyond our own world and into fictitious realms, he frequently incorporated cultural aspects of his native country of Vietnam such as the kitchen God Ong Tao and depictions of Buddha.
During his lifetime Le Ba Dang 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 Le Ba Dang but the works and ideas other artists too. Although Le Ba Dang’s passing in 2015 left his dream unfulfilled, his assistant Mrs Le Cam Te made it her own undertaking and has spent the past 4 years working tirelessly to bring the artist’s vision to reality.
With the untiring support of Le Ba Dang’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 Le Ba Dang’s paper artworks. To bring the new gallery closer to the ideals of an ‘artists’ paradise’, Mrs. Cam Te put extra emphasis on the colours and 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 Le Ba Dang 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.
How to Get to the Museum
Memory Space is quite some distance from the centre of Hue. Unfortunately, at the time of writing there are no organised shuttle routes to and from the gallery so private transport or a taxi will best serve your visit.
Le Ba Dang Memory Space
8:00-12:00 / 14:00-18:00
Address: Kim Sơn, Thủy Bằng, Hương Thủy, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam.