Monday, March 11, 2013

Cutting-edge art in Ho Chi Minh, and a missed opportunity

In Vietnam over the weekend, living a Travelife, we visited some of Ho Chi Minh's most cutting-edge galleries to check out the burgeoning local art scene.

The Ho Chi Minh art scene is still in its infancy vis-a-vis Hanoi. Nevertheless it has some great talents, especially among the younger generations.

Some of the most modern galleries in Ho Chi Minh are run by expatriates, and two I particularly liked.

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At the first cutting-edge gallery we visited, these two paintings popped out of the wall and called my name. They were really powerful and they reminded me of Ronald Ventura's works, in a way.

I really liked them.


This friend who was with me said: "You should get those. It's about time you changed that giant Deja Boo thing hanging above the buffet cabinet in your house."

*     *     *

Watch out for our recommendations 
for the best of arts, food and shopping
in Ho Chi Minh
in the
April-May 2013 issue
of TRAVELIFE Magazine

On sale everywhere from April 15

*     *     *

I have this very large red painting entitled Deja Boo, you see, which an art collector friend of mine in Manila convinced me to buy in under two hours. It was sort of a dare, and I lost. So I had to buy it off him.

It's by a talented young Philippine artist who sells in the international auctions. But the painting is the type you either love or you hate.

I like this painting enough to live with it; but this friend who came along to Ho Chi Minh with me certainly doesn't.


Anyway, here's a photo of the two paintings I really liked in Ho Chi Minh. I could so see these hanging on my walls in my Manila house.


But there were two problems.

The first was getting these giant things on a plane or even shipped.

I was so sure Philippine Airlines wouldn't accept them, even if we were in business class, as they were pretty big.

And I have never had a good experience shipping things from abroad except for the balikbayan box services. And neither of these would ever fit into a balikbayan box.

I also liked this one.
But after seeing the two powerful paintings above,
I couldn't really look at anything else.


The second problem was the budget.

It was out of my wallet range, especially for an unplanned purchase. I did fly to Ho Chi Minh to see and perhaps buy art, but not in this price range on a whim.

This artist was very talented, but I found his works a little expensive considering he wasn't showing yet in the international market.

This artist mixes some of his own hair into the paint as a sort of DNA stamp.
Here's a close-up of the area where he put some of his hair.

So I reluctantly let it go.

I would think about it, I reasoned with myself, and if I still woke up with a hankering for it the next day, I would call the gallery again.

With that, we proceeded with the rest of the day, happily traipsing around the city in a very nice combination of art, culture, food and shopping.


Then, when we got back to the New World Hotel, which was our home in Saigon, I checked my emails. There was one from the gallery owner we had just visited.

He wrote: "One of those paintings has just been sold. But let me know if you'd like to think about the other one."

Wow. I'd just seen this painting and now it was gone. Just like that. I guess it wasn't meant to be for me.

Talk about one of those few missed opportunities in a life of serendipity, amidst a never-ending and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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