Something missing in Vietnam’s painting art

Published: 06/04/2010 05:00



Artist Nguyen Tan Cuong left Vietnam for Phukhet, Thailand in early April, to organize a personal painting exhibition at D gallery from April 2 to May 31. He talked with Tuoi Tre.

Artist Nguyen Tan Cuong left Vietnam for Phukhet, Thailand in early April, to organize a personal painting exhibition (April 2 to May 31) before leading a sculptural and abstract painting exhibition at HCM City University of Arts in June 2010.

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D gallery in Phukhet, Thailand, has introduced paintings by many Vietnamese artists like Nguyen Lam, Le Quang Ha, Nguyen Xuan Tiep, Nguyen Thi Chau Giang, Nguyen Thanh Hoa, Le Quy Tong and Nguyen Quang Huy but Nguyen Tan Cuong is the first Vietnamese to hold a personal exhibition at this gallery.

Why did the Thai gallery choose you to organize a personal painting exhibition?

D gallery knows me through an introduction by a foreign collector. Early last year they expressed their willingness to organize a personal exhibition for me in Phuket. They said they wanted to build up my fame in Thailand. I was little surprised and I searched information about them. I know that D gallery is a contemporary gallery with leading artists in Thailand, so I accepted their invitation.

The prices of paintings can partially reveal the fame of artists, but, on the international market, prices for Vietnamese paintings are not high. Why?

We don’t have painting lovers with sufficient money and understanding who can pay a hundreds of thousand dollars to buy a painting by local artists like the Chinese, Indonesians and Singaporeans do. Moreover, we don’t have a market for paintings. If we had that market, valuing artists, their levels and their styles would be publicized. In Vietnam, the prices for paintings are offered by painters. In such an environment, we don’t have real prices for paintings.

Self portrait by Nguyen Tan Cuong.

In comparison with other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, western arts came to Vietnam earlier, with the establishment of the Indochina Art School in Hanoi in 1925. Yet our painting arts have lagged behind in the region. Are you sad?

It is sad. Our painting art developed very strongly from 1990-2000. After that we suffered from faked paintings. Fake artworks were sold even at international auctions, so how can we save the prestige of Vietnamese arts? Fake paintings hit the Vietnamese market very hard. Moreover, the uniqueness of Vietnamese paintings in the world has ended.

I don’t want to be critical, but Vietnamese artists have showed signs of exhaustion, but young painters have not risen yet. I think our painting is at a standstill.

Source: Tuoi Tre

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