In the turbulent conditions of the tragic history of Vietnam, Vietnamese artists managed to build their unique identity throughout the centuries. Nowadays, they stand in the contemporary art scene worldwide, and the nation is one of the firsts to receive that honor. That's why, in this article, the art lovers will find the main sites to discover major Vietnamese artists, including during the Indochinese period (when the Vietnamese Fine Art was at its peak), and the national and international paintings that cannot be missed...
Museum Fine Arts Hanoi © Mr Linh's adventures
Fine Art Museum, 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hanoi
In this beautiful edifice of Vietnamese colonial style, you will explore history through the eyes of Vietnamese artists and the multiple wars (constant local and emotional inspiration). There are two buildings (divided by periods, material, technics, art movement etc.), a beautiful garden, a cafe, and a couple of souvenirs shops. Continue reading below, to discover the renowned artists and their paintings.
Women Museum, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi
A moving museum that shows you that, wars, it's not only about the men after all. It is dedicated to all the female heroes of our country, the mothers, the wives, the daughters, and also the women soldiers who fought and suffered as much as the men. The whole museum of 5 floors, has all information Vietnamese, English and French (which is not common in Vietnam).
Ethnology Museum, Nguyen Van Huyen, Hanoi
Situated around 6km from the city center, in the district of Cau Giay, you can spend 2-3h to discover the 54 different ethnic minorities that live in Vietnam, including the Dao, the Tay and the Hmong, the three ethnics that are present around our homestay (link) in Ba Be National Park (link). Inaugurated in 1997, this museum is a product of cooperation between France and Vietnam (there's English, Vietnamese and French here also), and it has been a success! Welcoming travelers around the world every day (except Monday) with its vast circular hall (which is symbolic of the union of all the Vietnamese populations), and its huge garden where is displayed the traditional typical village houses...
Old Quarter & French Quarter, Hanoi
Of course, art lovers cannot miss the Old Quarter & the French Quarter around the Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem lake), where you can walk and wander around, observing the many French architecture building around the Opera, contrasting with the low floor yellow traditional Vietnamese houses on the North side of the lake. Galleries have sprouted here and there in the recent years, such as Cyril Kongo, Thang Long Art Gallery, Tired City etc.
Le Ba Dang Foundation, 15 Le Loi, Vinh Ninh, Hue
Le Ba Dang © Daoni/Mr Linh's adventure
Le Ba Dang is a French Vietnamese artist, he was born in Quang Tri Province in 1921, and passed away in 2015 in Paris. This vast and modern foundation reflects the poetic sculpture art with the main subject being the family and the sense of love, given his son has passed away at an early age because of medical reasons. This luxurious French architecture building of two floors contains 400 artworks of Le Ba Dang, along with a beautiful garden and a patio rooftop where you can admire the beauty of surrounding nature.
Fine Art Museum, 97A Pho Duc, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city
In this beautiful colonial style museum, there are sculptures, paintings and of multiple Vietnamese artists, and different traditional objects. The first part is dedicated to modern art, divided in three different periods of the Vietnamese Art: the Indochina period, the War & Revolution period, and the Contemporary period. The second part is the temporary exhibitions. And finally, the last part is for sculpture, as well as Khmer statues of the South of Vietnam. Small little charming cafe, the Fine Arts Cafe, where you can have a sip at the end of your visit.
Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi © Mr Linh's aventures
Art tours can be booked with our partner here:
If you'd like to take a look at contemporary art, of emerging young Vietnamese artists, we've picked up 10 galleries and art spaces for you here:
RECOGNISE PAINTERS & FAMOUS PAINTINGS
To Ngoc Van
|A girl by lilies
To Ngoc Van (1906-1954) is pioneer of oil painting in Vietnam. He grew up as a poor child, and in high school, he skipped class to follow his dream of becoming an artist. Graduated from Vietnam Fine Art University, he has painted in many places, including Bangkok, Hue and Phnom Penh. He was also a writer and an art critic; and an art teacher before dying in the battle of Dien Bien Phu.
His style is very much inspired by the French impressionist Gauguin. He particularly paid attention to the forms and had a big passion for colors. His use of color became very popular, an inspiration for Vietnamese artists. A street in Tay Ho district in Hanoi, was named after him, where nowadays, interestingly enough, live a lot of expats.
Among artworks of his, that are today at the National Fine Art Museum of Vietnam, the most famous is: A girl by lilies (1943). One of the most representative paintings of the 20th century, it presents a young girl in a white 'ao dai' (vietnamese long dress) next to some lily flowers, there it is: the tradition and softness of a Vietnamese lady. It gives a certain sensation of melancholy...
Luong Xuan Nhi
|Tranh số 3 (painting number 3
Born in 1914 in Hanoi and died in 2006, Luong Xuan Nhi is also one of the first pioneers of modern Vietnamese Fine Art, and in some way, has brought oil painting from the West to Vietnam. He is known for his paintings of women, and landscapes where he brings out the pure beauty and the deep Vietnamese spirit, he was called the Big Painter of Green. His artworks are displayed at the Fine Art Museum of Vietnam in Hanoi, in museums in Paris, Tokyo and New York.
Born in 1914 in Hanoi and died in 2006, Luong Xuan Nhi is also one of the first pioneers of modern Vietnamese Fine Art, and in some way, has brought oil painting from the West to Vietnam. He is known for his paintings of women, and landscapes where he brings out the pure beauty and the deep Vietnamese spirit, he was called the Big Painter of Green.<br /> <br /> His artworks are displayed at the Fine Art Museum of Vietnam in Hanoi, in museums in Paris, Tokyo and New York.<br /> This painting is a good example of his style, he takes a simple rural landscape, and plays with the colors, giving a sense of calm and peace, making an ordinary landscape appearing like coming from a fairy tale. He has always insisted that an artist must be true to himself, an important root in creating art.
Nguyen Phan Chanh
|Ra đồng (Going to the fields)
Born in 1892 in Ha Tinh and died in 1984 in Hanoi, Nguyen Phan Chanh studied at the Vietnamese Fine Art University of Indochina in Hanoi. He promoted hugely silk painting, he painted rural landscapes in transparent colors, to demonstrate the resistance to the domination of western culture, just as insisting that that this art form is Vietnamese and only Vietnamese. He glorifies the peasants and the soldiers of the country, the history, the rural life...
Being well-known internationally, his artworks has been exhibited in many countries in Europe, in the old Soviet Union and in Japan in the 20th century.
Today, you'll see his art in the Fine Art Museum in Hanoi, and others are in private collections or auction houses around the world.
Written by Daoni Nguyen