A Passion for Art

15/11/2019 09:42

Vietnamese art collectors are bringing classic works back to their home country.

“Young lady” by Nguyen Nam Son
(colored pencils on paper, 1937),

The number of Vietnamese fine art collectors remains limited, but their community is growing and having an increasing impact as many classic works are being repatriated.

Duc Minh (1920-1983) was one prominent early collector, as was the late Nguyen Van Lam (1930-2000), who passed away 20 years ago but whose legacy is still felt at his Lam Café in Hanoi where his contemporary collection has long been on display.

“Young lady and lotus flowers”
by Nguyen Sang (gouache on Diep paper, 1978),

In the next generation, Tran Hau Tuan, born in 1955, has inherited a passion for art. Coming from an intellectual family with members working for the military, he has an interest in sports, martial arts, and paintings. Tuan navigated difficult periods in the Vietnamese art market, gaining valuable experience along the way. His painting collection includes “Lady by the Lotus” (gouache on Diep paper, 1978) and “Cat Couple” (oil painting, 1971) by renowned painter Nguyen Sang.    

Nguyen Minh, born in 1954, whose nickname is Mr. Minh of Hang Chi Street, is Tuan’s peer. He has made a mark in the foreign market, bidding at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions to bring Vietnamese artworks back to their home country, not only paying premium purchase prices but also heavy import taxes. Depending on the value of the painting, these taxes can mount up to hundreds of million of VND. Many of the finest Vietnamese works by artists of the Indochina era have been collected by Tuan and Minh to be resold into an increasingly strong domestic market. Both collectors have been instrumental in connecting the local and global markets.       

"Mother and child” by Le Pho (silk, 1940)

Nguyen Manh Phuc (born in 1935) adopts a highly selective approach. Among his collection, artist Bui Xuan Phai’s sketches and newspaper illustrations stand out. He also written a book about Phai’s illustrations for Van Nghe (Culture) newspaper between 1970 and 1980.   

“The lady in front of the sea” by Nguyen Phan Chanh, silk 1938,

Mr. L.Q.Kh, a businessman and an emerging collector, possesses the great legacy of artist Tran Van Can, which comprises dozens of oil paintings and thousands of sketches. His objective is to construct an art museum in the future with Tran Van Can’s paintings as the basis.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the Quang San collection of Nguyen Thieu Quang and  Phung Minh Nguyet is one of the highlights of the art community. Having a shared interest in art, this couple now owns thousands of paintings done by Vietnamese artists from 1925 until now, many of which are regarded as classics, such as Le Pho’s “Motherhood” (silk painting, 1940) and Mai Trung Thu’s “Two Beauties” (silk painting, 1942).

“Village lady in the North” by Nguyen Nam Son (silk, 1935),

Mr. Quang and Mrs. Nguyet also intend to build an art museum. Although they are uncertain whether their children will share the same passion, they want the collection they have spent so much time, effort and money on to be displayed for other art lovers.

“Two cats” by Nguyen Sang (oil painting, 1971),

A new breed with just a few years of experience is emerging, although it will take time to build their collections. In the meantime, they are drawing on the experience of the generations that preceded them as Vietnam’s contemporary art community continues to develop at a rapid pace.

Phan Cam Thuong - Hoang Anh

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