Right now, although a lot of Vietnam feels quite capitalist, the government is still interested in promoting communist values. As a result, there are a lot of wonderful government posters all over Vietnam, in styles that echo Russian Constructivism and Swiss Modernism. If it weren’t for the date, and the bad digital printing on some of them, you’d never know they weren’t designed eighty years ago. I think some of them are absolutely gorgeous (no, Grandma, I’m not joining the Communist Party — I just like the art). The posters sometimes make it feel like you’re walking around decades ago in some Eastern Bloc state with your friend, Tractor.
I don’t know how long these will last, but this is a great time to see them. Certainly the locals are becoming savvy about their appeal; some Hanoi shops are selling original paintings for some of the posters. We found a great shop featuring one artist who’s designed government posters for years, and is still alive and producing. We bought an original painting of his (the first step in the process of creating a poster). We like it partially because it has the communist visual language, yet says something like "Modernize, for your country," implying commerce and capitalism. It kind of reflects the communist/capitalist paradox we’re seeing in the country — this is a unique moment in their history, and things will probably change soon.
I think this billboard is by the same artist:
We’ve noticed several billboards like this, which feature certain archetypes — the mother, the student, the female worker (or soldier or student), the worker, the intellectual (wearing glasses), etc. I think this one is from the Ho Chi Mihn City area.
The following posters are also from the Ho Chi Mihn City area I think:
And a billboard on the side of a building:
"Uncle Ho loves the children" can be found on the side of a building in Hanoi:
As can this catalog of current government posters:
I’ll add some more posters to this post as I find them in my archives.