What is the status of Vietnamese contemporary art?

Source: Pano feed

VietNamNet Bridge – Every field has its “tycoons”, including the world of art. Famous contemporary painters have made enormous sums of money, but there is little information about them in newspapers.


Sometimes you can read a short piece of news about a Vietnamese painter whose artworks were auctioned overseas. However, according to the professionals in the industry, the sale of paintings and development trends of art are different.


The painting market in Vietnam boomed in the early 90s and lasted until the early 2000. The ranking of Vietnamese contemporary artists began to be distinguished clearly, not by local experts, but by foreign galleries or international exhibitions. The value of a painting might reach a towering number. The change in the art market created a new vitality in the art scene.


In that context, promising faces became hot names, including Pham Luan, Le Thanh Son, Hong Viet Dung, Nguyen Thanh Binh, Do Quang Em, Ha Tri Hieu, Dang Xuan Hoa, and Dinh Quan.


Photo: A painting by Le Thanh Son.


A few years ago, according to many prestigious experts, Vietnam arts began to decline drastically. The prices for paintings by famous artists fell.


Last August, at the Larasati auction at the Goodwood Park Hotel in Singapore, Bui Huu Hung’s painting sold for SGD$4,270, Do Quang Em’s painting for SGD$2440, Nguyen Thanh Binh and Dang Xuan Hoa’s paintings for SGD$1464, and Nguyen Tan Cuong’s SGD$3,172. At another exhibition in Singapore, paintings by Dang Xuan Hoa sold for SGD$2,000.


Many people did not understand what was happening to these famous painters because previously, paintings by some young painters including Nguyen Dinh Hien, Tran Quoc Tuan, Tran Thanh Canh, Nguyen Bao Ngoc and Luu Nguyen Huong Duong had sold from SGT$3,000 to $8,000.


Indeed, for many years paintings by contemporary Vietnamese artists have not been”hot” at international auctions. In July 2013, at the Modern & Contemporary auction of the Larasati (Singapore), artworks by some Vietnamese artists (Pham Luan, Trinh Thanh Tung, Le Vuong, Vu Cong Dien, Hoang Duc Dung and Doan Hoang Lam) were auctioned at lower prices that were lower than the starting prices. At the auction, the painting by famous artist Nguyen Quang Em had the starting price of SGD$8,000 – 12,000 but it was sold for SGD$4,800.


The overseas art market is more active than the domestic market. Vietnamese artists now send their works to overseas exhibitions or galleries where they have a chance to sell paintings.


Tycoons in contemporary art


In that situation, there are still big tycoons in the world of contemporary art of Vietnam.


“The high-class artists in Vietnam are super-rich. They mainly sell their works to foreign collectors. Their names appear in the foreign media, not in Vietnam. But there are not many of them,” said the manager of a gallery of more than 20 years experience.


A famous painter who wanted to be anonymous said that he could sell a painting for $40,000 to a local collector. He said some tycoons in Vietnam know about art. He also said that many painters sold their artworks in “bundles”, pricing several USD/painting.


Why have Vietnamese paintings’ value fallen in the world?


Painter Pham Luan said: “There is a very famous artist whose paintings sold very well. He could not produce enough paintings for sale so he hired some unknown painters to copy his paintings to sell. And then he lost his name because the painting must be exclusive and unique.”


Some galleries copied paintings by famous artists to sell. Fake paintings have harmed the prestige of Vietnam art.


Furthermore, Vietnam still lacks experts who can assess painting prices so the prices are set by painters themselves. The prices, therefore, go up and down and fluctuate.


A painting by Le Thanh Son.

A painting by Le Thanh Son.



Painter Doan Hoang Lam said: “We do not have professional activities for painting arts. Painting needs the attention of the society but now Vietnamese artists work spontaneously. It is the same way for galleries. They are only interested in the artists whose paintings sold well.”


Painter Luong Xuan Doan said: “We should understand that the sale of painting and the development trend of Vietnam art are different. In the early twenty-first century, we now see the decline of Vietnam art. Anyway, this is the inevitability of the law.”


The worst aspect for Vietnam art now is fake artworks and the law is not strong enough to prevent this phenomenon. In Vietnam a gallery selling fake paintings has to pay only a several million dong fine while in other countries the gallery would be closed.


Also bad for talented artists are the regulations by the Ministry of Culture – Information issued in 2004 allowing copying of paintings in the country. Vietnam art now faces the big challenge of the market mechanism.


Dan Viet




Đăng ký: VietNam News