There’s something in the water — and it’s not just pollution from the Taiwanese companies. It is something a bit more intangible; a feeling, an energy, a creative buzz that gets the people up and moving. When I first arrived in Hoi An nine months ago I felt it immediately; without a doubt, Hoi An is a hotbed of artistic activity and inspiration.
Before Hoi An became the tourist magnet it is today, it existed as a small community of artisans. In its heyday it flourished as a trade port where exotic goods from all corners of the globe could be traded and exchanged. Textiles became the chosen creative medium for the artists of Hoi An but only in the past 30 years has the tailoring industry evolved into the star attraction that it is today.
Beyond the back alley haberdashers, Hoi An now supports a large oil painting, watercolor, and photographic community as well as several notable porcelain and jewelry designers. Though it was hit hard during the recent economic recession, the Hoi An art community has sprung back to life with fervor. Galleries catering to local and international audiences have cropped up all over town offering everything the art enthusiast could hope to find in this colorful corner of the Orient. While not all of them are created equal (beware of fakes or reproductions) there are several galleries that are worth a visit.
Dong Phu Tam Photography Gallery
No larger than a walk-in closet, the Dong Phu Tam Photography gallery concentrates a lot of beauty into a very small space. While decorated photographer Dong Phu Tam is known for his emotive depictions of Asia and Europe, his gallery in Hoi An focuses on quotidian life in and around Quang Nam Province. Dong Phu Tam’s original works are on display in the small gallery and prints are available for purchase.
Phu Tam Photography, 99 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Vietnam
Cotic Art Space Café and Gallery
Paneled in dark woods with ivy creeping down the walls, the interior of the Cotic tea house feels like your auntie’s old house in Hanoi had a hipster facelift. Cotic has become a kind of meeting space for local creatives where they can come together and bounce ideas off of one another. Cotic displays porcelain works by several notable artists from around Vietnam as well as clothing by burgeoning local designers. Hang out at Cotic and enjoy northern Vietnamese teas on a rainy day, peruse their wares, and join Anh of Essensian upstairs for yoga every day at 6 AM and 6 PM.
Cotic Art Space Café and Gallery, 60 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Vietnam
This contemporary art and design gallery holds a vibrant collection of paintings and prints – many of which feature Ha, one of the owners. Brilliantly bridging the gap between ancient and modern with a contemporary twist on a traditional subject, each piece for sale has been created by local unsung artists in a variety of mediums. The small and colourful space is full of cool stationery and gifts, cute books and printed cards that’ll easily fit in your carry-on.
Hay Hay, 155 Tran Phu, Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An Art Gallery
A step back from the busy street in the renovated Hy Hoa temple, Hoi An Art Gallery showcases oil paintings, porcelain works and prints by seven local artists. The labyrinthine complex is wrought with contrasts; contemporary works hang bright and colorful against smoky, stone walls, incense crumbles to ash next to porcelain vessels, primary colors twinkle from the massive altar that dominates the space. The Hoi An Art Gallery (quite literally) marries the contemporary with the ancient — a veritable microcosm of Hoi An itself. Enjoy a cup of jasmine tea as you peruse their collection.
Hoi An Art Gallery, 6 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Vietnam
Couleurs d’Asie Gallery
A fixture in the local and international art scene, French photographer Réhan is known for his up close and personal portraits of Vietnamese people. His gallery Couleurs d’Asie (Colors of Asia) showcases his works from Vietnam, India and Malaysia. Couleurs d’Asie has large format prints for sale as well as postcards and several limited edition prints. Réhan’s Vietnamese prints can also be found in the smaller subsidiary, Asian Gallery, housed at the back of Enjoy Restaurant.
Couleurs d’Asie, 7 Nguyen Hue, Hoi An, Vietnam
Co Gallery is the home of local celebrity artist Phan Thanh Minh. In a world where polished reality and conventional beauty reign supreme, Phan Thanh Minh deviates from the norm focusing the body of his work on raw emotional expression. ‘For me the most important thing is [raw] emotion — emotion of the heart.’ Born in Hoi An and trained in Saigon, Phan Thanh Minh has come home to accolades. While critics in more traditional art circles have ventured to call his work ‘sloppy,’ Phan Thanh Minh has turned the other cheek saying ‘I like it this way’ — and we at Hoi An Now do too.
Co Gallery, 18 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Vietnam
+84 (0)235 3862 123