Fine Contemporary Vietnamese Art: Towards the Millennium, Galerie La Vong, $560 Vietnamese art has gone from gloom to boom, and then back to relative gloom in just 12 years. The last year of the tiger saw the new liberations of doi moi transforming the conditions for Vietnamese artists: this one sees the roar of a new recession. But in the interim, Vietnam's artists have found a place on the walls of the world that has changed everything for them. Although some galleries - particularly Plum Blossoms in Coda Plaza, and the Museum Annex in Exchange Square - have hosted major Vietnamese art shows, the only gallery in Hong Kong dedicated to the contemporary art of Vietnam is Galerie La Vong, a small Lan Kwai Fong venue which opened in 1993. Soon afterwards they published a book called Fine Contemporary Vietnamese Art: Poetic Reflections, including essays by art critics and biographies of each of the artists they represented. Five years on, it is time for an update: Fine Contemporary Vietnamese Art: Towards the Millennium. Rather misleadingly, the gallery has given this second and slightly fatter volume a similar title and an identical cover - both feature Nguyen Tu Nghiem's 1968 painting Ancient Dancers - which is a shame because it gives the impression that they are the same book. This version is almost completely rewritten: the essay contributors, artist descriptions and half the colour plates are new. While the first book was an excuse to present artists' biographies in a prestigious hardback format, putting together this edition has involved not only updates of factual information, but also a search for the essence of the artists' inspiration. For Bui Xuan Phai, the most famous of Vietnamese artists, it is nostalgia and its politicisation; for Buu Chi it is transience and the bitter-sweet nature of change; for Dao Thanh Dzuy 'it is the slight worry of waiting, hoping and remembering what has gone before'. Strangely, given the change of title, this second volume is the more poetic. This book does not try to summarise the artistic trends of one country: these are, after all, the artists represented by just one gallery. So as we see in these pages a celebration of nature, summer, of light and of city streets bathed in sunshine, it is important to remember that this is the taste of just one set of gallery owners. It is important not to surmise that because we see flowers not guns, calmness not anguish, that Vietnamese art is all like that. In this catalogue, for example, there is none of Truong Tan's once-forbidden homo-erotic art, nor any of the risque sculptures, installations or photographs that, in one of the book's essays, art magazine editor Ian Findlay-Brown speculates will probably find themselves more often in Vietnamese art catalogues in the future. But here are many major figures in three generations of artists. There are the influencers, including Phai, who has the dubious posthumous honour of being the most frequently faked; the late humanist painter Nguyen Sang; and Nguyen Tu Nghiem, who puts his unmistakable 20th-century imprint on traditional art forms. It is a delight to see through this book how some artists have developed - Nguyen Thanh Binh, for example, shedding complicated techniques for a more Buddhist simplicity, or Nguyen Trung requesting that only abstracts, rather than his celebrated paintings of nudes, should be included in this edition. There are a few changes of artists between the two books, which raise some questions. Why, for example, are only four of the Hanoi Gang of Five - 30-somethings who joined up in 1990 to commemorate 100 years after Vincent van Gogh in a major Hanoi show - included? And why are there no women artists? There are four essays by art critics: Thai Ba Van and Jim Monan reflect on the history of Vietnamese art; Phan Cam Thuong discusses the problems facing the Vietnamese art market, including the scarcity of art critics, poor infrastructure, and in-fighting; and Findlay-Brown, speculates about the future, and wonders how Vietnam's best artists can solve the problems of acceptance and experimentation that they are facing now. When I was first given Poetic Reflections several years ago, I thought it was simply a useful way of keeping artists' biographies together: it was not until I went to Hanoi that I realised how few English-language resources there are like this. This more complete edition of Fine Contemporary Vietnamese Art is a welcome addition to a small bibliography.