Last updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Vietnamese Painting Auction Shaping Professional Market

Posted: Monday, February 12, 2018

In addition to buying paintings from galleries or directly from painters as usual, there is a new way of buying and selling works of art via auction floors which professionalise the Vietnamese portraiture market.

Uplifting Vietnamese painting market
Literally, many paintings have been successfully auctioned via such auction floors as Lythi Auction, Chon’s, Lac Viet and Gem Centre (Ho Chi Minh City) and via some online websites like daugiavn.vn, Viet Art Space, Viet Art Now and Vietnam Art Space and traded at right values and narrowed the value gap with international markets. Remarkable deals include the auction of 12 special works of art created by renowned artists like Tri - Lan - Van - Can (Nguyen Gia Tri, Nguyen Tuonng Lan, To Ngoc Van, Tran Van Can) and Nghiem - Liem - Sang - Phai.

(Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Duong Bich Liem, Nguyen Sang, Bui Xuan Phai) hosted by Chon’s Auction House on July 30 in Hanoi. The first masterpiece auctioned was “Chân dung” (Portrait) painting by Bui Xuan Phai at a starting price of US$250 and sold at US$400. His “Phố cũ” (old quarters) painting, which used to be a topic of controversy, was sold for US$13,000, higher than two so-called genuine masterworks from Christie’s Hong Kong and Sotherby’s Singapore.

Particularly, “Tình yêu đầu tiên” (first love) artwork made from pigment by artist Tran Van Can that depicted the love story between him (the then headmaster of Indochina Arts School with his student Tran Thi Hong) was put up for US$6,000 and sold to collector Ha Huy Thanh for US$41,000.

Another success was the first auction of artworks in Vietnam held by Lac Viet Auction Partnership Company in Hanoi in May, 2016. The paintings were sold at fairly high prices, with the “Hạnh phúc” (happiness) by Hoang Phuong Vi sold at for VND65 million, the “Tiên nữ vùng cao” (highland fairy) by Quach Dong Phuong sold for VND95 million, and the “Bên dòng sông đỏ” (By the Red River) by artist Dao Hai Phong cost VND150 million.

The second art auction themed “For art” hosted by Lythi Auction on May 27 at Hotel des Arts Saigon introduced chef-d'oeuvres by Vietnamese prominent painters in the 20th century. Many works of art were concluded at incredible values such as the “Phiên chợ đời” (market day for life) composed by Le Kinh Tai in 2009 on canvas sold at the highest price (US$82,000 - 120,000), the “Bản giao hưởng trắng” (white symphony) created by Hoang Tich Chua in April 1975 at US$62,000 - 80,000, the “Họa sĩ và người mẫu” (artist and model) oil canvas painted by Hoang Hong Cam in 2003 for US$12,000 - 16,000), and the “Phong cảnh đồng quê” (countryside landscape) by Nguyen Gia Tri at US$14,000 - 20,000.

The “Thien Nhan and friends” auction was launched by Gem Centre (based in Ho Chi Minh City) and Live To Love Vietnam Fund in October 2016 to seek funds for Thien Nhan Fund to perform operations on urinary tract abnormalities for children. In spite of being organised for goodwill, auctions were selected by artistic criteria and measurements of collectors. Thus, all 13 artworks were sold out for US$223,600, including the “Phố cổ Hà Nội” (Ancient Hanoi street) oil painting created by Bui Xuan Phai in 1968 - 1972 offered at US$77,000 and sold at US$102,000, the “Tôi - diều gió” (I - kite) by Le Kinh Tai tendered at US$60,000 and sold at US$80,000, and the “Gửi đêm” (sending to the night) by poet Bui Giang offered at US$2,500 and sold for more than 10 times of US$27,000.

Maturity of art business
Artwork auctions have long existed in Vietnam but it is rather new in Vietnam. These will help open up a new public channel for buying and selling magnum opuses which will reduce tax loss for the State Budget and inspire creations by Vietnamese artists and encourage aficionados and collectors to access genuine artworks that are protected by law.

According to many experts, to professionalise this activity, art auctioneers necessarily employ highly qualified professional appraisers to evaluate art quality and prevent counterfeiting.

Auction is a form of maturity of art business. If artwork auctions are organised professionally, they will open up a public and transparent channel for buying and selling objet d'art to increase their value in Vietnam and create opportunities for the art world to develop and integrate with the world.

Mr Vi Kien Thanh, Director of the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibitions under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, is drafting circulars on auction of artworks, a move expected to promote artwork auctioning and develop the painting market of Vietnam.

Nguyen Thanh

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