Image courtesy of Vietnam Guide
Ho Chi Minh City’s flourishing contemporary art scene reflects its status as Vietnam’s most cosmopolitan and dynamic city. Over the past decade, Saigon has evolved from a commercial art hub to a more eclectic community of artists, gallerists, curators and educators creating platforms to promote Vietnamese contemporary art.
Following a lack of infrastructure and resources during a period of recovery after the Vietnam war, artists are increasingly open to experimentation and exchange - making for a highly dynamic contemporary art scene. Many local artists are now able to draw influence from their travels and experiences outside Vietnam, which hasn’t been possible until recent years.
The arts scene in Ho Chi Minh City feels vibrant but down-to-earth, with a number of exciting local artists beginning to make waves internationally and a range of artistic spaces popping up to nurture these artists and feed the growing appetite for visual art.
Established in 2007, Sàn Art is an independent, not-for-profit contemporary art organization which hosts exhibitions, lectures, workshops, residency programmes, and artist talks, as well as commissioning new work. Over the years, this creative hub has developed an international reputation for its innovative, artist-led programmes.
The platform was founded in order to cultivate better interaction with visual art in Vietnam, where resources have been historically limited. Located in central Ho Chi Minh City, Sàn Art has a public reading room as well as the San Art Laboratory where long-term artist residency programmes are held. Working with local and international partners, Sàn Art also curates exhibitions aimed at showcasing the diverse artistic talent in Vietnam and beyond.
MoT+++ is an artist-run initiative in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that playfully expands on what is expected from a contemporary art space. It takes a fluid and responsive approach to programming, hosting an ongoing series of exhibitions, installations, performances, presentations, workshops, sound events, open studios, and residencies. It collaborates with artists to help them push the boundaries of their practice, and collectively investigate the gallery site as ‘+1 nice place for experimentation’.
Established in 2015 by artist Cam Xanh, MoT+++ has since expanded as the MoT +1 artist collective, featuring Kim Duy, Cian Duggan, Wu Chi-Tsung and Aliansah Caniago. Other projects include the +1 museum by any other name, which installs selected artworks in unpredictable places around the world for a minimum of one year, MoT sound, and international artist residency A. Farm in the city’s District 12.
American lawyer-turned-gallerist, Craig Thomas, established his space in 2009, making it one of the city’s most establishes commercial galleries. With several award-winning artists represented by the gallery, the focus is on supporting the development of young and mid-career Vietnamese artists, providing them with a platform to present their work to a wider audience.
Located in District 1, the gallery curates and hosts regular exhibitions throughout the year, promoting contemporary Vietnamese artists working in painting, sculpture and mixed media.
Image courtesy of Gallery Quynh
Housed in a 600 square-meter space in central HCMC, Galerie Quynh is an internationally renowned contemporary art gallery known for its consistently strong programmes of Vietnamese and international artists whose practices range from drawing and painting to video and installation. Since its founding in 2003, the gallery regularly collaborates with artists, curators, museums and art spaces locally and internationally to organize talks and lectures as well as to produce publications in English and Vietnamese.
Located just outside the city centre in District 2, The Factory is the first purpose-built space for contemporary art in Vietnam. The Centre is housed in a 500 square metre converted warehouse, marked by a shipping container at its entrance.
The large space hosts a range of curated exhibitions, workshops, live arts, talks and film screenings, aiming to showcase experimental art and emerging artists The site also features a restaurant and bar serving cocktails and locally-sourced ingredients.
Based in District 2 of Ho Chi Minh City, Vin Gallery strives to bring artists to the city to share their work with the local community, as well as to promote exciting Southeast Asian artists to the international art scene. The gallery has a strong presence at art fairs across Asia, including Art Taipei and Art Central in Hong Kong.
Vin Gallery represents a diverse range of artists who work with various mediums. The Gallery aims to nurture its roster of artists by creating networks and collaborations with other art spaces across Asia and beyond.
Established by Réhahn, a photographer himself, this gallery space features unique combinations of Réhahn's fine art photography and documentary styles. These images aim to both inform and mesmerize, and have been consolidated across the photographer’s experiences Vietnam, Cuba and India. They also have a second location at the InterContinental.
Most visitors to Ho Chi Minh City will start at the Fine Arts Museum - a beautiful, and supposedly haunted, colonial-era building with an interesting mix of French and Chinese architectural details. The vast museum was originally built as a mansion for the Hui Bon Hoa family, one of the city’s wealthiest families during the 1920s - 1930s.
The museum’s collection spans three floors and showcases contemporary and historic painting, sculpture and textiles, with a focus on propaganda art and subsequent works inspired by the Vietnam war.
Duc Minh Gallery has been cited as having one of Vietnam’s most expansive private art collections. Duc Minh himself was one of Vietnam’s most important collectors and sought to salvage artworks from their destruction during the Vietnam war. His family now carries on this legacy of the collection which now includes more contemporary works. His son, Quoc Chi, also offers private tours of this space.
Tucked away in one of the three houses that belonged to US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, Salon Saigon seeks to present contemporary creation and Vietnamese culture through art exhibitions, performances, conferences, screenings, educational programs. It features a unique collection of resources on Vietnamese culture available at the library. It was founded by French-Vietnamese artist Sandrine Llouquet, a long time advocate of Vietnamese Heritage and an art collector.
Devised by English expat and art historian, Sophie Hughes, Sophie's Art Tour looks at Vietnam's tumultuous history through the lives and works of its artists.
The half-day tour offers insights into the development of the art scene and also an overview of Vietnam’s fascinating history, taking in private collections, museums, and contemporary art spaces. The tour is designed to highlight the personal experiences of artists who studied, fought, witnessed and documented major changes in 20th and 21st century Vietnam.
Download the pocket version of our Ho Chi Minh City Art Guide.
Traveling around Asia sometime soon? Why not check out more City Art Guides by clicking here.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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