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Saigon's Art Galleries

| 23 Jan 2017
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Saigon's Art Galleries
Our rating
23 Jan 2017

Saigon's art scene runs deeper than the decorative art conspicuously scattered around Dong Khoi and nearby streets. Uncovering the city’s more serious art scene requires more effort. That's where this little guide to Saigon's best art galleries comes in.

 

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Saigon's art galleries - background

If your interest is in buying cheap copies or inexpensive decorative art work, the alley at 70 Dong Khoi (below L’Usine cafe), and the entrance of the historic Catinat building at the corner of Dong Khoi and Ly Tu Trong St, are good places to start.

If you're wanting to take a more serious look at Vietnamese contemporary art, read on.

There was a brief time in the 1990s after Vietnam opened up to the world, after years of war and isolation, when it seemed like Vietnamese artists were poised to set the Asian art world on fire. Vietnam’s art scene was buzzing.

After about a decade of attention, things cooled. Suddenly, Vietnam’s artists were no longer in vogue. It’s a fickle business  - and Vietnam’s scene has had its ups and downs.

Over the past decade, it’s been harder for Vietnamese artists to find their place on the international stage. There’s no shortage of work being produced though, and a handful of Saigon galleries are doing their bit to keep a newly invigorated scene alive and accessible.

Vietnam's artists and galleries still operate in a censorious environment - which doesn't make things easy.

If you’d like to check out some more serious original contemporary Vietnamese art, here are some suggestions.


Apricot Gallery

Originally out of Hanoi, Apricot Gallery is one of Vietnam’s largest galleries. It opened in the early 90s when Vietnamese art was the talk of Asia. Its collection is more decorative but they also stock some interesting contemporary work.

50-52 Mac Thi Buoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone:+84 8 3822 7962


Craig Thomas Gallery

Long time Saigon-based lawyer, Craig Thomas, originally from the US, has been exploring Vietnam’s art scene for decades. In 2009, he stepped away from law and followed his true passion, opening Craig Thomas Gallery, focused on emerging and mid-career artists.

www.cthomasgallery.com/
27i Tran Nhat Duat, Tan Dinh ward, Dist 1, HCM
Tel: 84 903 888 431


Dogma Gallery

Dogma Gallery houses the largest collection of North Vietnamese Communist propaganda art from the Vietnam War. The collection is owned by Saigon based British fund manager Dominic Scriven and the curator, Richard di San Marzano.

Dogma has closed its exhibition space and now operates online only.

www.dogmacollection.com


Duc Minh Gallery

Duc Minh Gallery houses Saigon’s most extensive private collection of Vietnamese art. The collection was originally established in Hanoi in the 1930s and has passed through generations of the same family. The current collection mixes work by some of Vietnam’s most famous painters from the pre-war period as well as contemporary works.

31C, Lê Quý Đôn, Phường 7, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh;
Tel: 84-8 39 330 498


Eight Gallery

Eight Gallery is a small private gallery exhibiting work by leading Vietnamese artists.

La Fayette Building, 8 Phung Khac Khoan, Da Kao ward, Dist 1, HCMC.
Tel: 84 8 38248490
www.eightgallery.com.vn


The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre

One of the city’s most important arts centres opened in 2016 in District 2 - a popular expat enclave around 15 minutes by cab from downtown Saigon.

The Factory is an independent arts centre in a large warehouse space that hosts regular exhibitions and arts-focused talks and events. Well worth checking out what’s happening here. There’s a health-conscious cafe attached too.

15 Nguyen Du Di, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City


Fine Arts Museum

Saigon’s main art museum is gradually developing its contemporary art collection and is a must for those interested in Vietnamese art. You can read more Saigon's Fine Arts Museum here.

97 Phó Đức Chính, Nguyễn Thái Bình, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 8 3829 4441


Galerie Quynh

Probably the most active private gallery in town, Galerie Quynh was opened by American Vietnamese curator, Quynh Pham in 2003. There are regular exhibitions in a small and central space.

Level 2, 151/3 Dong Khoi, D1, HCMC, Vietnam.
Tel: 84 8 3824 8284
www.galeriequynh.com


Hien Minh Gallery

A small independent gallery on Saigon’s “antique st” aka. Le Cong Kieu St. It’s an antique shop and gallery owned by Hanoian artist Nguyen Thi Hien and her daughter Minh. They host small exhibitions upstairs and usually have some of the owner’s work on display as well.

38 Le Cong Kieu St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Near Fine Arts Museum and Ben Thanh Market.


Lotus Gallery

Lotus Gallery doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s one of the most storied galleries in the city. In early 2017 it relocated to Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, also downtown.

Owner Mdm Xuan Phuong, in her 80s, has been an advocate of the arts for decades - so long in fact that she has a photo from the 1950s taken with Ho Chi Minh. She’s a national treasure.

Her collection carries some of Vietnam’s most celebrated twentieth century art. The presentation may not be fancy, but there is some serious art in these halls.

100 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City


Salon Saigon

Salon Saigon is a small contemporary art space with a private collection, regular exhibitions, as well as talks and events. It’s located around 15 minutes by taxi from downtown, in an historic District 3 alley.

This is a good place for some quiet Saigon time too. There’s a collection of books available and tea is served.

Salon Saigon opens Tuesdays between 9AM and 6PM and on other days by appointment. Check for upcoming events.

6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City


In the video below, contemporary artist Pham Huy Thong talks with us about the contemporary art scene in Vietnam.

 

 


In this video, Zoe Butt from San Art (see below), shares some of her thoughts about the state of play in contemporary Vietnamese art. Zoe's role at San Art gives her a great opportunity to observe the evolution of contemporary art in Vietnam.



 

 

Disclosure
Rusty Compass recommendations are always independent. We list the places we think you should know about. That's it. No money has changed hands in the creation of this listing.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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What's On At Saigon's Art Galleries

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