The art galleries in Ho Chi Minh City are numerous and well worth visiting, for the art enthusiast and novice alike. You only have to stroll down Bui Vien, the main tourist strip, to know that Saigon is an artistic place, but it is in the private galleries and exhibitions that dot this city that the true colors of Saigon’s art scene come to life. From pop art to traditional lacquerware, original art to the best high quality knock-offs, and from the hand-made to the hand-drawn, art galleries in Ho Chi Minh City are as varied as they are fascinating.
Saigon has a thriving contemporary art scene, and many of the galleries in Ho Chi Minh City celebrate the work of the city’s most up and coming artists. We visited stylish Zen Gallery and were fascinated by the range of provoking drawings, oil paintings and other unique pieces by Saigon’s most well known contemporary artists such as Dao M. Tri and Nguyen Q. Vinh. Many other galleries and work spaces exhibiting contemporary art are scattered around the city, and with the steadily decreasing government censorship Saigon’s now mostly underground art scene is slowly gaining popularity with art dealers and art collectors around the globe.
Ho Chi Minh City also supports a number of private galleries featuring some of the biggest players on Vietnam’s art scene. Gallery Vinh Loi features original art by such names as Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Nguyen Thanh Binh, while French artist and long-term Saigon resident Helene Kling features her own exquisite paintings at her gallery in District 2. For a glimpse at Saigon’s artists of the future, make a visit to the Craig Thomas Gallery in District 1, which showcases art from Vietnamese professionals’ early to mid career.
Traditional art is also very much alive in Ho Chi Minh City. From lacquerware and ancient woodblock prints to silk paintings, embroidery and Vietnamese calligraphy, Saigon’s artists work hard to keep their traditions alive. Influenced both by Chinese rule in early Vietnam and French occupation in the 19th century, traditional Vietnamese art is a beautiful blend of Chinese, French and Vietnamese techniques and materials. You can buy prints, silks and other pieces of original art and handicrafts at shops all around the city.
Ho Chi Minh City’s wealth of artists also provide workshops and classes, growing the art scene and providing support for the city’s budding contributors. For a lesson in self-expression or to develop your own modern art, visit Helene Kling at her workshop or simply browse the plethora of galleries around Ho Chi Minh City! Saigon’s art scene is as exciting as it is high quality, and can only continue to develop.