BEST HOI AN ART GALLERIES
This guide to the Best Hoi An Art Galleries was compiled by Bridget March, one of Hoi An’s most respected artists. Bridget is the artist/owner of March Gallery, 25 Phan Boi Chau.
INTRODUCTION BY BRIDGET MARCH
Hoi An has a reputation as a center for culture and the arts in Vietnam and it is true that a number of artists and writers have been drawn to this beautiful town because of the gentle pace of life, the light, the variety of landscape, the architecture and the vibrant culture.
However, there are so many shops selling paintings, drawings and lacquers in town that it is hard to tell the copy art from the original work. When I opened my gallery in Hoi An in May 2017, I went round every single gallery and picture shop in Hoi An to discover what my competition would be. This Gallery guide will help you to find the kind of art you are looking for and, hopefully, make you feel more confident about buying something from the best of the local artists.
I have listed ten galleries and also given some advice about shopping in other places. Here are four pieces of advice:
- If you ask any shop owner if the work is original, they will always say ‘yes’ but most of the paintings you will see are mass produced for the tourist market. These cannot be called original works.
- Ninety-five per cent of all the lacquer paintings you see are not made from lacquer at all but from synthetic, commercial paints. Authentic lacquer works will cost around $80-$100 for 20x20cm.
- If you like it and the price is right – then buy it whether it is original or not!
- If you buy from one of the galleries below, always ask if they can give you a certificate of authenticity. Vietnamese artists are now making a splash on the international art scene and the prices are rising. One day, it may be worth a lot of money!
THE SHOPPING STREETS
Nguyen Thi Minh Khai has more art shops and galleries than you can count. Apart from those reviewed here, they contain copied or derivative designs and ideas aimed at charming innocent tourists. If you love it, buy it – the work is cheerful and cheap.
Other prominent streets with galleries are Tran Phu, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Bach Dang and Phan Boi Chau.
Sansonto Art Studio
This gallery will appeal to lovers of abstract art and splashes of color
Close to the Japanese Bridge, Sansonto Art Studio has been here for 20 years. Son is an expressionist artist using colour and dynamic techniques to transcribe his emotions onto canvas. Son has also been producing work in collaboration with his son since he was just three. All of the works are of a high quality and highly emotive.
Son makes you feel very welcome. He speaks reasonably good English and is quick to offer a cup of tea and a seat; if you get talking to him he will sometimes bring out the pieces of art that are not for sale – each with a story to tell
Also… for those interested in more traditional Vietnamese art, Son also has on display some paintings on silk and some woodcuts by his teacher – Tho Sy Ngoc – of Hue University. This is worth a visit.
Hours: 9am – 6pm
Add: 10/17 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
For those who like Expressive art and bold color
Located just over the Japanese Bridge, the gallery is housed in a beautiful villa with yellow walls, wooden shutters, climbing greenery and some modernist metal work on the gates – a reflection of the artist who resides within.
“Co” translates as brush which is clearly an apt name. The works are expressionist and dramatic; obvious brushstrokes create a distinct and memorable style. Complimentary colors are often employed to bold effect in his works – faces, full figures and townscapes. The gallery is entirely his own work, but he will occasionally show pieces by friends. This is a MUST visit.
Hours: 10am – 7pm everyday
Add: 18 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
Something to surprise and delight all art lovers
It would be easy to miss this gallery, but don’t be put off by the scale, because it contains some important work. Reu Gallery contains works of unusual but engaging subject matter – large scale animals and the occasional nude. It’s eye-catching, exciting and stands out in the Hoi An art scene.
The works are full of color, in the expressionist and impressionist style – a hidden gem full of lively subjects. Don’t miss this one.
Hours: 10am – 9pm everyday
Add: 17 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
Impressionist art, etchings, prints, books and drawings
Bridget March is an artist, illustrator and writer from England who has recreated a European-style gallery in the Old Town of Hoi An. The gallery is full of color with very high quality work on display in one of the beautiful old houses in the French Quarter. The staff are helpful and knowledgeable and can help you find just the right painting or gift.
The gallery also represents three or four other international artists and makers working in Vietnam, each with their own perspective on life in this beautiful country. This is a MUST see!
Hours: 10am – 6.30pm everyday
Add: 42 Phan Boi Chau
Fine art photography
One of the town’s most famous galleries. Photographer Rehahn has been in Hoi An since 2011, and is best known for his portraits of Vietnam, Cuba and India. The photographs are striking and the essence of the place as well as the person are evident in every aspect of his work.
The prints are all limited edition, and range in price, with the smaller ones being affordable, and a small selection of postcards at the front are on offer. If you buy one of the limited edition prints, the story behind the photograph will be emailed to you personally. Not to be missed.
Hours: 8am – 8pm everyday
Add: 7 Nguyen Hue
Print & souvenir shop
Situated just before the Japanese Bridge, this little art shop hosts a number of local Vietnamese artists, and sells good quality prints of their works in varying sizes. They also have a limited amount of original paintings, the subject matter and style diverse and interesting.
Worth a visit as it is reasonably priced and sells lots of postcards, notebooks and other types of souvenirs if you want something other than a print.
Hours: 8.30am – 10pm everyday
Add: 155 Tran Phu
Rest Stop 57
Large artworks, good decorative pieces
This gallery is owned by Truong Bach Tuong, and contains his own artworks as well as several other artists, all from Vietnam. The paintings are large, colourful and decorative. Interesting techniques and textures of paint, while the subject matters and uncomplicated and pleasing.
The prices are good for the quality of the artwork, and the atmosphere of the gallery is calm, with benches for longer viewing and the staff speak excellent English. Good to visit to find work for a large interior space.
Hours: 9am – 10pm everyday
Add: 57 Tran Phu
Fascinating craftsmanship artworks
A fusion of art gallery, boutique and coffee shop, showing work from artists in Hanoi, and also has a selection of ceramics by a French artist. Mainly focuses on portraits and faces, but interesting techniques and inexpensive for the quality.
Good to visit while walking through the Old Town as very centrally based.
Hours: 9am – 9pm
Add: 60 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Unusual work – intimate gallery
Tucked away in a little side street, this gallery shows works from six accomplished artists. It is charming, with canvases spread over all the walls, with a studio next door. The paintings are diverse, and mostly expressionist.
This quirky gallery is excellent for finding something different, and they offer to ship any purchase worldwide.
Hours: 10am – 6pm everyday
Add: 11/3 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Wide variety of work – large scale paintings
Situated within an old pagoda, this gallery shows works of artists from all over Vietnam. The paintings are well displayed, with detailed labels on each one, and diverse in style and subject matter.
The beautiful building brings them to life, and it would be worth visiting to see the pagoda alone.
Hours: 10am – 6pm everyday
Add: 2/4 Nguyen Thai Hoc