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Artist’s daughter to sue over dad’s signature

Update: August, 09/2016 - 07:00
Artist Nguyễn Thành Chương poses near a painting called Abstract that he says is his own work, and not a work by famed painter Tạ Tỵ, whose signature appears on the painting. VNS Photo Văn Đạt
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The daughter of late painter Tạ Tỵ, who pioneered Việt Nam’s cubist school, plans to file a lawsuit in HCM City court in an aim to remove her father’s allegedly forged signature on a painting by another Vietnamese artist.

The painting sparked controversy last month when it and 16 other works were displayed at the HCM City Fine Arts Museum in an exhibition organised by the museum and the painting’s owner, collector Vũ Xuân Chung.

Tạ Tỵ’s daughter, Tạ Thùy Châu, said she wanted the signature of her father taken off the painting titled Abstract. She said that her father had been insulted.   

Châu said she would file documents with HCM City’s People Court, demanding a public apology for her father.

Châu visited the museum during the recent exhibition Paintings Returned from Europe after she heard about the controversy and the complaint from painter Thành Chương that the Abstract painting, with the signature of Tạ Tỵ, was actually his own work.

The daughter was quoted as saying in Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper that the painting’s style, including colour choice, frame and signature, was not similar to her father’s work.

“My father never signed his paintings that way,” Châu said, adding that even art critics recognised it.

Châu said that she had conducted thorough research and had even called her siblings living in the US to ask about their father’s paintings.

During his career, Tạ Ty had only one painting titled Abstract (dated 1951), and it was not similar to Chương’s work, according to Châu. In addition, the painting in the exhibition at the museum was dated 1952.

"After hearing that my father’s name was associated with a painting by artist Thành Chương at the exhibition, we visited and spoke with the HCM City Fine Arts Museum about the mistake," she was quoted as saying in Dân Trí online.  

“I demand that they take off Tạ Ty’s signature under the witness of a special council consisting of professional experts in Việt Nam," she said. "They also need to publicly apologise to my father."

Lawyer Nguyễn Hữu Đức said that penalties under the intellectual property law as well as the criminal code would apply if the parties involved were found guilty in court.

Lê Thị Hồng Hạnh, deputy chief of HCM City’s Copyright Office, said: “Let the court decide.”

Vi Kiến Thành, director of the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibitions, said that he supported Châu’s lawsuit.

Châu said she would ask that the signature be removed by the painting’s owner Vũ Xuân Chung and Jean-Francois Hubert, a former senior consultant for Vietnamese art at international auction house Christie’s Hong Kong.  

Chung, the art collector, insisted that the paintings were authentic and that the painting Abstract was created by Tạ Tỵ. He said that Hubert, who was working at Christie’s at the time, had sold the painting with a certificate of authenticity.

Painter Thành Chương has also sent a letter to the Ministry of Public Security and the Department of Exhibition, Photography and Fine Arts, saying that his painting had been mistakenly attributed to Tạ Tỵ, whose signature appears on the work. 

"I’m sure that I’m the true and only painter of that piece, not Tạ Tỵ," Chương told Chung, the painting’s owner, during a recent meeting at the Fine Arts Museum. — VNS 

The painting Abstract, displayed at the HCM City Museum of Fine Arts last month, was signed by late artist Tạ Tỵ, but Thành Chương said the work was his own and that the signature had been forged. VNS Photo Văn Đạt

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