The Cube 1 (oil on canvas, 140cm x 200cm, 2014) by contestant Pham Anh.

Could you share some reasons why you decided to be a judge for such a likely controversial art competition as VIET ART Today 2016? 

I am professionally active in fine arts for years to contribute my modest part to promoting Vietnamese fine arts in the region, thus helping Vietnam further integrated into the international art world. Although my achievement is just a pinch of salt added to the ocean, I still hope that my efforts can bring Vietnamese art to a higher position in the global art scene.

I was fortunate to have the chance to experience life in the Europe which is home to a lot museums and art centers; I am also based in Singapore, a substantial art hub of the region, for nearly 20 years. Visiting art events in these countries, I was inspired to turn toward my root. I have organized exhibitions for Vietnamese art works, put Vietnamese works to auctions, and introduce Vietnamese in international art fairs. I realized that Vietnamese art has not been internationally valued and recognized. It has always been my concern.

  I care the most about young Vietnamese artists who are full of passion and creativity. I deeply hope that they will break through all barriers so that their works are better valued in the domestic market, which paves the way for regional and international integration and takes Vietnamese art to a new level.

  Upon knowing that artist Tran Thanh Canh wants to expose young artists’ works to the public with the valuable support from an experienced sponsor – Galerie Nguyen, I accepted the invitation to be a judge for Viet Art Today 2016 competition without hesitation. With my knowledge and the participation of Ms. Ildegarda Scheidegger, a Swiss expert in art who has in-depth knowledge of Asian and Vietnamese arts, I strongly believe that the competition will succeed and contribute to promote Vietnamese fine arts. I don’t care about controversies.

  The competition comes up with the concept “ young professional artists” . How do you look at ‘professional’ aspect, is it professional in creativity, or professional in market access?

  In my opinion, a professional artist should have both creativity and knowledge to penetrate into the market to introduce their quality work to the public. In addition to building their own reputation, a professional artist will promote unique traits of fine arts in his home country.

It is encouraging to see that The V Art, the Young Artists’ Club (Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association) and Galerie Nguyen (the main sponsor) are all working towards this goal in organizing the competition.

  What do you expect in the future for Vietnamese young artists?

  I hope that Vietnam will have a young artist force that becomes increasingly professional. I also look forward to a more enabling playground for them to freely express themselves through their works. Their works will be better received by the public domestically and internationally.

  Other forms of contemporary art such as installation art, performing art, video art, multimedia art, etc. will receive better recognition rather than restricted to traditional fine arts.

  I hope that Vietnam will become a fertile ground to nurture young talents in contemporary fine arts. I am proud that in recent years, Vietnamese contemporary works have been selected and well received in international art events. In the Singapore Biennale 2016 – open on October 26, 2016 until February 26, 2017, contemporary artworks of South East Asian artist are on display. One of them is created by Vietnamese artists Bui Cong Khanh and Nguyen Phuong Linh.

  If Vietnamese fine arts can maintain its integrity and develop in the right direction, in terms of market, where do you think Vietnam’s position should be?

  It’s hard to tell. I think Vietnamese fine arts should have developed further and received more appreciation if we could overcome the barriers. One of them is the issues of forgeries which is becoming increasingly uncontrolled. These cause serious impacts on the reputation of Vietnamese fine arts, making price of artworks plummet.

  For fine arts to develop strongly, the Government should integrate fine arts as a subject in teaching curriculum for primary and secondary students. This will set the foundation for young students to know how to enjoy fine arts. Community fine arts events should also be organized more. Art museums should receive more support in terms of funding and expertise to attract more public attention.

  In fine arts training, beside specialized subjects, students should be taught how to build up their work profile dossiers, including certificate of originality, knowledge of domestic and international art market.

  I am happy to see that even though small in number, collectors in Vietnam is increasing. Currently the organization of small auctions in Vietnam and especially the presence of galleries such as The V Art and Galerie Nguyen which are focusing on developing talent artists are welcoming signals.

  I hope that in the future, activities related to Vietnamese fine arts will become more and more professional with the increasing presence of galleries like Galerie Nguyen and professional curators as well as exclusive artist agreements with reasonable terms and conditions and career development plan for artists.

  What is an exclusive artist agreement with reasonable terms and conditions?

Artists usually face a lot of difficulties as they find ways to market their paintings on their own. Therefore they rely on galleries to promote, market and push up price of their paintings on their behalf. The presense of exclusive artist agreements with reasonable terms and conditions and trust in long term cooperation will benefit both involved parties and help them increase their peace of mind. To my knowledge, VietArt Today 2016 also aims to promote this type of agreement.

  How do you assess the position and creativity of Vietnamese fine arts compared to the region and the world?

  Vietnamese works by artists graduated from the Indochine Fine Arts School are always highly appreciated in the world. Their reputation and creativity are indisputable; however, each country has their own unique traits that cannot be compared.

  Fine arts world always talks about some names in Vietnamese fine arts with great Phan Chanh with silk paintings, Nguyen Tu Nghiem with folklore paintings, Nguyen Sang with propaganda paintings, Bui Xuan Phai with paintings of Hanoi Old Quarter. In addition, Tran Van Can is also regarded as an excellent painter with different types of paintings; Nguyen Do Cung is both a good painter and a great contributor to art research on temple and pagoda architecture. Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam, Mai Trung Thu, Le Thi Luu, etc. are some outstanding names in international auctions.

  Vietnamese fine arts also honors artists such as Tran Van Can, Tran Luu Hau, Nguyen Trung, Nguyen Phuoc, Do Quang Em, Ho Huu Thu, Nguyen Lam, Co Tan Long Chau, Nguyen Trung Tin, Tran Chau, Uyen Huy, Nguyen Tan Cuong. Other Vietnamese artists received international recognition include: Lim Khim Katy, Nguyen Thanh Son, Hong Viet Dung, Dang Xuan Hoa, Doan Van Nguyen, Nguyen Huy Hoang, etc.

  Creativity of Vietnamese fine arts is not left behind, but even more outstanding in some countries in the world. Therefore I hope that competitions like VietArt Today 2016 will help to make our world of fine arts more diverse. The owner of La Vong gallery in Hong Kong once said: “I grew up with the eyes of a Chinese; however, Chinese fine arts has never been able to captivate me. But I feel that Vietnamese fine arts stand out more and are coming very close to the global contemporary fine arts.”



The first prize includes VND 100 million cash, a trip to visit an artfair in Singapore and an exclusive five-year contract with the main sponsor (Galerie Nguyen) worth up to  VND 2.5 billion. The second and third prizes also have the same prize structure with the total value of over VND 1.5 billion and over VND 1 billion respectively

Besides curator Thanh Kieu Moeller, the judging panel also includes Ildegarda E. Scheidegger, Ph.D. of Art (former Director of Asian Fine Art of Sotheby’s Auction House); Julie Lam (Canada), collector Oliver Do Ngoc, collector Julie Lam, artist Tran Thanh Canh (Chairperson of the Young Artists’ Club).