The H&S Foundation houses a private collection of Vietnamese contemporary paintings produced and acquired in the 1990s by Marc Hürner and Antoine Savary.
The two businessmen initially came to Vietnam in the early 1990s as foreign investors and entrepreneurs after the 1986 economic reforms known as Doi Moi. The excitement for the new markets corresponded with a creative rebirth in the country as well.
As luck would have it, through chance meetings and a shared cultural interest, Marc and Antoine made friendships with a number of artists during their extensive travels in the country. The two collected numerous works over that period, having been introduced to the artists by the proprietors of early pioneering spaces such as Diep Gallery, Do Huy Bac Gallery, Vin Loi Gallery, A&T Gallery, and Tu Do Gallery.
Embarking on what would become a shared journey of art discovery and appreciation, Marc and Antoine visited artists such as Bui Ngoc Tu (a figurative painter known for his conflation of gender duality), Nguyen Than (who creates nostalgic, lost worlds), Nguyen Quan (a diligent investigator of formal balance), and many others. As their collections grew, H & S began organizing exhibitions of these works in Switzerland, at the Noga Hilton in Geneva (Mekong 1995) and the Ballens Gallery in Morges (Mekong 1996). At the end of the nineties, for over 2 years, Marc directed an art gallery in the center of Brussels where numerous youg Vietnamese artists had the opportunity to present their works.
Those encounters and an affinity for the country culminated in a collaboration with the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association to organize a contest in 1997 that aimed to promote contemporary Vietnamese painting. With the additional input of advisors Shannon Curry and Cesare Ranchilio, the universal theme of Man / Woman was established and 23 selected artists produced 46 paintings in a diverse range of styles. Mounted at the Association’s gallery space, the exhibition received great press. In order to de-prioritize commercial interests, it was agreed that all the paintings would be purchased by H&S ahead of the exhibition.
This exhibition marked the defining starting point to what eventually became the H&S Collection.