French expert Jean Francois Hubert said Vietnamese fine art artists are lagging behind their regional colleagues at a recent ten-day training course for art critics held at the Hue University of Fine Arts.
“Before being closed in 1945, the Indochina College of Fine Arts in Hà Nội had trained many of Việt Nam’s leading artists, who left behind the others from Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China and also Japan at that time.
However, currently Việt Nam’s painting is blurred beside its neighbors,” said Jean, an expert from Christie’s, the world’s largest fine-art auction house.
According to Hubert, most of Việt Nam’s most valuable paintings were not introduced worldwide by the country’s own people, but by international art collectors.
This is because rich people in Việt Nam would rather own large collections of modern cars than artistic works, which they never want to invest in.
Another problem is that, while many noteworthy museums have been built in China and Singapore, all of Việt Nam’s halls are designed in a similar style and have never been improved to reach international standards, despite the fact that they own many valuable paintings.
“Moreover, Vietnamese artists are not self-motivated enough to popularize their works internationally”, Hubert said.
“They need to organize exhibitions more frequently”, he added.
Research conducted by Wang Zineng, who is responsible for Asian art in the 20th Century and ASEAN modern art at Christie’s, revealed that most of Việt Nam’s paintings which have been auctioned belonged to former students of the Indochina College of Fine Arts, such as Lê Phố (1907 – 2001), who had 1,064 paintings auctioned; Vũ Cao Đàm (1908 – 2000), with 393; and Mai Trung Thu (1906 – 1980), who had 359 items sold.
There were also 54 paintings from Nguyễn Gia Trí (1908 – 1993), 32 from Nguyễn Phan Chánh (1892 – 1984), 11 of Lê Thị Lưu’s (1911 – 1988), six of Tô Ngọc Vân’s (1906 – 1954), six of Lê Văn Đệ’s (1906 – 1966) and three paintings created by Nam Sơn (1890 – 1973).
In 2011, 64 of Lê Phố’s paintings reached a price of USD 1.6 million each; 24 works by Vũ Cao Đàm cost about $345,000 each; and 16 of Mai Trung’s items cost $340,000 each.
These valuable paintings were mostly auctioned in Hong Kong, followed by Singapore, the USA and France.