“Upon arriving in Hanoi, we met our private guide Kevin and with our personal driver, Hu’ng, we were whisked away to the Metropole Hotel and entered through the exclusive back entry. Four men in black-tie opened the doors for us. Rather than check-in with the lobby staff, we were escorted to the Club Level to enjoy champagne and finger sandwiches as they gathered our details and explained the hotel’s history and unbelievable amenities. Our personal butler, Chu, then escorted us to our room. Red rose petals floated in the gorgeous clawfoot bathtub. Exquisite chocolates were presented next to a handwritten welcome note on top-of-the-line stationery. Affixed to the note were images that the Chu and his team had research and harvested from my Instagram account.
I was gobsmacked. I never expected this level of luxury in Vietnam. While my series does highlight this elegant welcome, I give much more focus on our enriching experiences: bicycling, kayaking, practicing Tai Chi, squid fishing, cooking, rowing a boat, and wading in the rice paddy. Yes, we were pampered in Vietnam. But, I got plenty of dirt under my fingernails. I lost numerous kilograms from sweating like a madman. I sampled every imaginable food and drink that was set before me. My muscles were sore from pumping the pedals to get my bicycle to the top of hills. And, I managed to navigate my way through the markets while motorcycles sped by me at lightning speed.
Many of my international art series combine mesmerizing imagery from traveling with my colorful, abstract skill. This series is no exception. What truly sets Hoi An 2019 apart from other series is the selection of the palette. For the first time in history, I did not bring wood panels with me from Houston. I challenged myself to find the objects to paint on while in Vietnam. This was risky. And it was a definite challenge. While walking through the market in Hoi An for the first time, a light bulb went off. The ideal object wouldn’t be flat. I wanted it to be a bowl. After weeks of literally having pho for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I could not think of a more ideal orifice. My abilities were tested with the bowls – creating on a rounded surface is tough. And I had to paint the sides and back too. But, this gave me joy. Unlike any other series, this one would be remarkable for its size, shape, and quantity of remarkable stories that would be told through it.”
John Ross Palmer
This entire series has gone into private collections.