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Students sketch Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi

students sketch Long Bien Bridge (1899-1902)

Photo courtesy Vietnamnet

A student from the University of Architecture in Hanoi sketches the city’s Long Bien Bridge. Built between 1899 and 1902 by the French colonial power, the cantilever bridge, which is 2,290m. long, symbolises the city’s troubled history during the 20th century, having survived three wars and suffered much damage. However, it still remains as a symbol of the city’s resilience.


Vietnamese lead hunt for missing Chinese artists


Vietnamese authorities, including police, army and navy, are in the forefront of the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 which left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 (European) and has not been seen since. The planned route for the aircraft would have taken it across remote parts of Vietnam, as well the country’s coastline. A large party of Chinese artists, art exhibition organisers and their families were on board. It is believed that 19 artists and calligraphers were on board the aircraft after opening an art exhibition in the Malaysian capital.

The whereabouts of the aircraft remains a complete mystery and there is much speculation about some extraordinary event having taken place ranging from a terrorist explosion to the plane and its passengers being ‘kidnapped’ and landed on some remote airstrip.


Vietnamese art: photographs 2 Marble carving

Da Nang marble factory

Vases for sale at a marble works on the road between Da Nang and Hoi An. They are fashioned from local marble quarried from a presiding hill known as ‘Marble Mountain’.  Vast numbers of the marble representations of animals, people and garden sculptures are sold to passing tourists and shipped abroad. Photo Paul Harris


Quang Ho paintings exceed estimates at auction

Two paintings by Vietnamese-born artist Quang Ho, now resident in the USA, comfortably exceeded their estimates at auction in the UK March 6. The two oil paintings were offered by Tayler & Fletcher in Cheltenham, England: The Violinist achieved £1,600 (hammer) against an estimate of £250-400; Two Mizuna Chefs got £1,700, estimate £5-700. Both paintings bore the date 2010 and were sold by London’s Catto Gallery. The asking price at that time on Two Mizuna Chefs was £4,750.

The market for second-hand paintings by contemporary artists is unpredictable and these can be regarded as solid prices. They may well appear back in the trade at some later date and would be marked up at least 100%. Hammer prices attract around a further 25% in commissions, VAT and ARR.


Vietnamese emigre artist’s work in UK auction

Two oil paintings by Vietnamese émigré artist Quang Ho are to be sold at auction in the UK on March 6 at the auction rooms of Tayler & Fletcher in Cheltenham, England. One is entitled Two Mizuna Chefs (illustrated below) and the other, The Violinist. Both paintings were completed in 2010 and sold by London’s Catto Gallery.


Quang Ho, was born in Hue, Vietnam in 1963 and fled Saigon in 1975, at the age of 12, the day before the city fell to the Vietcong. The family managed to make it to Denver, Colorado. When he was 18 years-old, his mother died in a car crash and he had to bring up the rest of the family. His artistic talent was already apparent: he held his first one man show, whilst he was still a sophomore in High School. He says he admires a range of artists from John Singer Sargent to Andrew Wyeth and William deKooning. He has had many exhibitions with the US and his works are in the collections of The Prince of Brunei, Safeway and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, amongst many others.


‘Art weathered the recession and could be a route to riches’

alistair hicks

Alistair Hicks, Deutsche Bank curator of art

London’s prestigious Sunday Times newspaper reports that the contemporary art market has held up well during the recession and ‘could be a route to riches’. It says that buyers should consider ’emerging markets’ and points out that ‘Artists from Asia, Africa and the former Soviet bloc are making waves throughout the art world.’

Alistair Hicks, senior curator of Deutsche Bank’s art collection, has just written The Global Art Compass, which provides a guide to many of the new emerging markets. It is published on March 10. The point he is seeking to make is that it is important to spot up-and-coming art, rather than relying on conventional authority.

Time to get started!

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Why should I buy Vietnamese art?

Saigon art shop                                                                                                                          

In a gallery in Ho Chi Minh City, reproductions of work by Western artists like Jack Vettriano and Beryl Cook jostle alongside original works by Vietnamese artists. Buyer beware!

Of course, you should only buy any art, of any kind, if you like it and are happy to live with it on your wall or on display in your home or office.

But if you are happy with a piece you see, it is only sensible to buy something that will appreciate in value. You have to enjoy a peculiar sense of aesthetics to enjoy having money in the bank; especially these days, when any return, at least in the West, is well below the rate of inflation. Surely, it is much more satisfying to have your investment on the wall at home? Besides which, if properly insured, it is arguably at less risk than in the bank!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have something beautiful on the wall which is appreciating in value by as much as 100% p.a.?

I started buying Vietnamese modern art in Spring 2004 after my first visit to Hanoi. I was stunned by the vibrancy, sense of colour and exciting imagery of young Vietnamese artists. Pictures which I bought for three or four hundred dollars in those days, I am now reselling for five or six thousand dollars. Of course, those were the early days of the expansion of the art market in Vietnam and it was quite a daring thing to do . . .

Vietnam only opened up to the outside world in the early 1990s under the political and economic process known as doi moi, and artists, whose work had been rigidly controlled in the service of the state, were suddenly freed from politically correct shackles. An exciting period of development rapidly followed. Some of the work, of course, was derivative and unimpressive, but many artists emerged successfully from this period of shakeout, and have produced work of international standard. Some artists are now achieving high prices internationally, especially in the salerooms of Paris and Singapore, where Vietnamese artworks are now regularly sold.

We select most carefully, on frequent buying trips to Vietnam, the artists whose work is on sale here. We cannot guarantee you a return on your investment but we undertake to buy back from you, after a couple of years, any painting sold at its original purchase cost . That may indicate to you our confidence in the market.

Paul Harris

January 27 2014