|Flying away: Than Co (Stork) by writer Huu Uoc sold for US$200,000 at a charity auction. — Photo nhandan.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Streets such as Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hang Trong and Hang Gai had many shops selling paintings, but the real picture was gloomy, journalist Dao Mai Trang said at an international conference yesterday.
Co-chair of the function, Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition Department, said the Vietnamese fine-arts market was still small and not professional.
He said there was a lack of spacious galleries where paintings could be displayed and that many galleries were small and displayed low quality works, many of them breaching copyright.
"There's not one real fine-arts auction in Viet Nam. Most auctions are organised for charity," he said.
The painting Than Co (Stork) by Huu Uoc sold for nearly US$200,000 at a domestic auction held to raise money for charity.
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Culture and the Danish Embassy. It gathered many domestic and foreign experts to discuss the Vietnamese fine-arts markets.
Trang said there was no fine-arts market in the true sense in Viet Nam. That's why valuable paintings by Nguyen Phan Chanh, Mai Trung Thu and To Ngoc Van are sold abroad and now belong to foreign collectors or auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's.
"People often buy paintings to decorate their houses.Some artists create these artworks for commercial purpose," Trang said. "However, galleries displaying high quality artworks have few customers."
Trang said owners of galleries such as the Quynh Gallerie in HCM City and Art Vietnam Gallery in Ha Noi, both founded in 2003, told her that most customers are foreigners.
She said the domestic market was gloomy because it lacked trade, auctions and professional criticism.
Art expert Christina Wilson from Denmark agreed. She said the fine-arts market in the US was dynamic with strong and positive criticism, big auction houses, independent curators, private collectors and many biennial and triennial art festivals.
"Those are the key factors Viet Nam needs to build a fine-arts market," she said.
"Viet Nam has an opportunity to develop its market," she said, "as long as you find a way to glue all advantages you have together. To have a developed commercial market for fine arts, Viet Nam should have professional galleries to display professional work.
Wilson said it was important to create a network where international artists could display their paintings in Viet Nam and Vietnamese works displayed overseas.
Park Nark-jong, director of the Korean Cultural Centre in Viet Nam, said that to get a building permit for big buildings in his country, contractors had to provide space for displaying artworks. He added that there were tax exemptions for art activities.
"Every year, we organise creative camps for domestic and international artists in such places as a desert in Mongolia, Lake Baikal and tribal areas in Australia." — VNS