A French artist has heard these stories and retold them to visitors at the French cultural centre in Hanoi .
Dialogues with the Walls is the name of Lolo Zazar's photo exhibition on display at l'Espace. He depicts Hanoi 's patchy walls, which have impressed him during his five-year stay in Vietnam .
"When I go out on the streets, I often see that Hanoi is like an open air museum. Its walls are like works of art. It makes me take out my camera to capture each image", Zazar said.
The 18 photos on display at the exhibition are selected from 2,500 he took over the last five years in Hanoi . They reflect the rapid change of walls in the capital.
Hanoi seduces the artist with its mouldy walls in the Old Quarter. The small streets of the city are also home to variegated walls with plenty of KH CAT B TONG (abbreviation of khoan cat be tong (concrete drilling and cutting) advertisements. These words are written or engraved on the walls in different colours, along with the telephone numbers of the people or companies who do the jobs. The modern walls with graffiti works by youngsters also attract the artist.
People left their first marks on the walls. However, according to Zazar, the nature may be the most talented artist. Due to the impact of the wind, the rain and the sunlight, the colours of the drawings and the writings on the wall have also changed with time.
"Each wall has its own story to tell. A large part of Hanoi 's history is engraved on the walls. Those walls are typical of Vietnamese cities, not only in Hanoi ," Zazar said.
For some urban managers, the variegated walls may show that Hanoi is not very clean. However, in Zazar's eyes, the walls reflect the animated life in the city.
Zazar's photos surprises quite a few visitors at the show. When they look at the works, they believed that the works on display were paintings.
"I wonder which technique he used in his painting, to make it so lively and sincere. It's difficult to know immediately that they are photos", says a visitor at the show.
Lolo Zazar works in different genres of art, from fine art and photography to sculpture. He is living in Vietnam to conduct some of his personal art projects about the country. He had his first exhibition of sculpture and lacquer work at l'Espace in 2010.
The exhibition will end on June 11 at l'Espace, 24 Trang Tien St .-