Guidebook Art: where to find the best private galleries


Art: where to find the best private galleries

Saigon’s emerging art arena is “as loud and vibrant as the city itself,” says James Pham at Verve magazine, and a long way from the “well-done but kitschy reproduction paintings and an endless supply of traditional crafts like lacquerware and wood carvings of lithe Vietnamese women in ‘ao dai’, Vietnam’s iconic tunic dress.” Here are some of the best galleries in town:

Craig Thomas Gallery: “Founded in 2009 by American Craig Thomas who has been involved in Vietnam’s art scene for over a decade, the gallery is tucked away in a small villa in District 1. The gallery exclusively shows local talent, from emerging to more established artists working with a range of media and styles.” (Art Radar)

Dia Projects has “generated a buzz in the art community for showcasing the exploration and experimentation of contemporary art … set on the peninsula of Thanh Da just 20 minutes north of downtown Saigon but known for its rustic simplicity and rice fields, the independent, non-profit space exhibits a variety of media including painting, photography, video, installations and performance art.” (Verve)

San Art: “Being the usual rendezvous for art aficionados, it provides young artists with an opportunity to showcase their work to national and international partners ... San Art is among the most active non-profit art organizations in Vietnam, forming a connection between contemporary art and our generation.” (Vietcetra)

Galerie Quynh: “The most professionally recognised, international standard gallery in the city, Galerie Quynh was founded in 2004 by Vietnamese-American Quynh Pham. The gallery represents Vietnamese emerging and established artists, as well as foreign artists. In addition to its regular exhibitions programme in its two spaces in District 1, the gallery also holds talks and lectures.” (Art Radar)

Zero Station is “a tiny space, but its impact on the Saigon art scene has been immeasurable … the process-based gallery offers two ground-breaking residency program: the Packed Program for non-locals who wish to visit Ho Chi Minh City, and the Intensive Program that offers the opportunity to work with a local artist on a project … founder, curator, artist, and writer Nguyen Nhu Huy is renowned for his innovation.” (The Culture Trip)

3A Station: “Once known for its rustic walls of French architecture, the zone is now decorated with expressive graffiti and street art by the most prominent artists in the area … the space also features an extensive gallery of more than 100 contemporary paintings. (Vietcetra)

Tu Do Gallery: “One of the oldest standing galleries in the city, Tu Do also boasts a collection of important modern and contemporary artists … more on the ‘classical’ side of the scene, Tu Do also holds regular exhibitions throughout the year … like many local Vietnamese entities, Tu Do is not great at publicity, so swing by to see what’s on or contact them before your trip.” (Art Radar)

And if you want to help to find the best of the city’s art scene, says Lonely Planet, take the “highly engaging and informative four-hour tour from expert Sophie Hughes, who has her finger on the pulse of the HCMC art scene.” Tours visit the Fine Arts Museum, private collections and contemporary art spaces, “explaining the influence of recent Vietnamese history on artistic style and technique.” Sophie is a “softly spoken, Englishwoman with impeccable qualifications and experience in the international art scene,” explains City Highlights. “Contributors to the project include artists personally involved in the wars, eminent historians of the different periods, and curators of the art itself. By interweaving their stories, Sophie has crafted a longer narrative that spans two centuries of modern and contemporary Vietnam.”

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