Vietnamese Fine Art
Vietnamese fine art in modern times presents a scene that is replete with many fine artists and countless admirers and enthusiasts. Vietnamese fine art has been shying away from the eyes of the world for many years. It is only recently that it has been emancipated from its erstwhile provincial existence. Vietnamese fine art is finally coming out of the closet to present itself in its full glory before a wider audience.
The growth of interest and the rise in popular enthusiasm about Vietnamese fine art have been truly phenomenal in the past few years. The last decade, especially, has witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of people world-wide taking an enormous deal of interest in Vietnamese fine art. It is safe to assume now that Vietnamese fine art has finally come of age and is ready to go truly international.
The contemporary art scene of Vietnam is buzzing with activity, and is vibrant like never before. This is to be attributed not only to strong commercial considerations, but also to the commitment of artists and dealers to create and promote quality work. One cannot help but wonder in awe when one looks upon the radical metamorphosis of Vietnamese art over the last few years. Less than a decade ago, contemporary Vietnamese fine art and artists had negligible presence in their own country and virtually none on the international art scene. Yet, in 1993, eminent art critic and accomplished painter Ca Le Thang wrote in the popular art journal My Thuat, “In 1992 a total of 130 groups and one man exhibitions were opened in Ho Chi Minh City, featuring works by local (Vietnamese) artists… and even (artists) from overseas. Over 5,500 works created by more than 200 artists were exhibited in 25 different locations; attendance numbers rose to over 400,000.”
Vietnamese fine art, since then, has only grown from strength to strength with every passing year. A closer look at this phenomenon reveals that it is not just the profile and status of the nation’s art and artists that have grown in strength. The change is also evident in the quality of the art and in the scope of its representation through local, regional and international galleries and museums.
Compared to other Asian countries, and according to several art commentators, Vietnam was the earliest to merge into the mainstream of modern art, as defined by the West, in both form and content. Such a fact can be easily seen with the coming into existence of Ecole Des Beaux Arts (Indochina’s School of Fine Art) in the early 1930s, with the presence of professors from France.
Western style in technique and the use of color was what the first student generation trained in this school obtained. The techniques however were employed by the graduate artists to depict the aesthetic essence of Viet-narn, especially the freedom and generosity of an Asian soul. Such a fundamental beginning had laid the foundation for the younger generations to follow and again led to their success.
Local galleries and museums have a major role to play in the growing popularity of Vietnamese fine art. They are the main driving factor behind the increasing popular enthusiasm and the commercial success of fine art in Vietnam. Such galleries are virtually countless in cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hue. Some are nothing more than mere shops selling paintings.
In the major cities, about 50 of these galleries can be deemed professional. They deal in a wide variety of local art, ranging from highly popular landscape and figurative work to abstract and experimental work in lacquer and other mediums. The range of variety to be noticed in Vietnamese fine art by gazing upon these paintings is truly amazing.