Viet Art Today 2016 is in its final round with 20 sets of paintings of Vietnamese young artists (born from 1976). The competition has first, second and third prizes which are worth over VND 2.6 billion, VND 1.5 billion and VND 1 billion respectively. It is organized by Young Artists’ Club (Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association) and sponsored by Galerie Nguyen (HCMC). The judging panel members include Ildegarda E. Scheidegger (Ph.D. of Art, a former Director of Asian Fine Art of Sotheby’s Auction House); Olivier Do Ngoc, collector (Luxembourg); Thanh Kieu Moeller, curator (Singapore); Julie Lam, collector (Canada); and Tran Thanh Canh, artist (Chairperson of the Young Artists’ Club). More details can be found at: http://thevart.com/vn.
The cathedral’s security guard (oil on canvas, 230 cm x 200 cm, 2016) by Nguyen Cong Hoai, a contestant
THIS IS FOR THE FIRST TIME JULIE LAM TAKES OFF THE HAT OF AN ENTREPRENEUR AND ART COLLECTOR TO PUT ON THE HAT OF A JUDGE OF A PROFESSIONAL COMPETION - VIETART TODAY 2016. SANH DIEU MAGAZINE HAS HAD A TALK WITH HER ABOUT HER INTEREST IN ART COLLECTION AND HER EXPECTATION FOR THE FURTURE OF VIETNAMESE FINE ARTS.
Young, talented, professional, and different! Those are some among the reasons why you decided to take a seat in the judging panel. Is there any other reason?
The reason why I decided to become a judge of this competition is that I love art. I hope that I can contribute a humble effort to find out fine pieces of art by talented painters, so that the sponsor Galerie Nguyen and The V Art can support them on their way to professionalism, and…this is also the opportunity for me to become one of the first to be able to buy the beautiful works of these young painters to add to my collection. And just like what my parents did, I hope my kids to be able to grow up in artistic surroundings since their early age, and that can be the good starting point for “future collectors”, to whom this competition is targeting.
No, I’m not under any pressure. I will rely on my own knowledge and feelings to provide judgment. The panel comprises of five judges, each comes from a different country, has different background, but what we have in common is the love for art and our jobs all involve in studying painting. Whether you have art background, you study art, or you collect art works, you all have to invest time and money in order to have that experience! The selection of each judging panel is based on a different set of criteria, and each panel also has their own set of criteria. I think the composition of this judging panel is very interesting so the topic of the competition will be very diverse.
Art collecting is your hobby, and you also used to be CFO of a big foreign bank in Vietnam. Now you are an entrepreneur, working on big projects like Mia Nha Trang Resort, Fusion Mia Nha Trang. How the originals by famous painters and works of young Vietnamese painters are related to your work, for example your projects?
This is actually one thing I am confident about when setting criteria for young painters in this competition. The title of the competition itself is “Young professional painters”, it means that young people should aim at professionalism whether you are an artist or a financer. When I was working in banking sector, I saw that paintings were regarded as assets and commonly used as collaterals all around the world, but not yet in Vietnam. I had been working in Deutsche Bank (in Vietnam) for almost 15 years but I had never seen any guarantee or credit contract using a painting as collateral. When I first came back to Vietnam, I didn’t pay much attention to that, but later on, when I started collecting paintings, I realized that collectors in Vietnam only buy paintings for decoration purpose, or to have some pieces of art to pass down to their children. But paintings as assets in (financial) secondary market, and particularly as bank collateral – as far as I know – have never been the case here (in Vietnam). Regarding your question about the originals by famous painters and young painters, to make it easier to understand, I just want to give an example about Vietnamese painters, not mention worldly famous painters like Pablo Picasso or Claude Monet. The works by renown painters such as Le Pho, Phan Chanh, Mai Trung Thu, or even some later ones such as Dang Xuan Hoa, Hong Viet Dung, Pham An Hai, those that are purchased by Sotheby’s or Christies Auction House, can be used as collateral based on the price valued by the auction houses; but in Vietnam, even the works by Le Pho or Nguyen Gia Tri, I think the banks do not know how to value the paintings to take as a collateral, because there is no professional entity to provide valuation services. Therefore, I hope there will be more activities like this program of The V Art and there will be more art lovers to collectively formulate a professional market for fine arts…and one day, our children can use valuable paintings as bank collateral.
Just a personal question: Why did you become a collector and invest a great deal of emotion and devotion for Vietnamese fine art, particularly young painters?
As I have said, I’ve been an art lover since my early age, I keep buying and collecting pieces of art that I like, those include not only paintings but also Vietnamese antiques with cultural values. I buy and collect to pass down to my children, grandchildren, and for myself at the present, I look at the cultural values presented in art and I feel happy. You see, Vietnam has a lot of beautiful stuff, a lot of values because we have a long-standing culture and architecture, then why we don’t start collecting from now. I think it’s already a bit late, but it’s never too late to start. I like young painters because they are dedicated, they are young, they still have a lot of potential. It is necessary to have patent policies and sponsors to support them. I believe their works will reach far beyond to the world in a near future, and this is actually a very good investment channel. And, of course, they paint beautifully!
What expectations do you have post VIETART Today 2016?
As I know, after the competition, The V Art will sponsor the winners to go on trips visiting fine art expos, to research on the international fine art markets, exchange culture, and bring their works to international arenas to gain them some prestige. I believe if The V art has a smooth “touch” to international market, the future contests will continue creating a stronger and more professional contingent of young painters, to go further and contribute a remarkable part to the development of Vietnamese fine art. I expect in the time to come, 10 years maybe, fine art will become more professional. And in future, in the time of our children and grandchildren, all the paintings are valuable assets, and Vietnamese fine art will present all over the world.