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, 42 Phan Boi Chau.
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.
How To Shop
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. I continue to visit galleries and artists in town regularly to keep up to date on the art on offer here. This Hoi An Art 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 twelve of the best Hoi An art galleries and have 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 USD (1.8 – 2.3 million VND) for 20x20cm. You’ll see small, 30×30 lacquer plaques for sale for 20-25 USD (460,000 – 580,000 VND); the equivalent authentic lacquer work would cost at least 10x that.
- 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!
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!
Hoi An Photographic Club
Fine art photography.
A new entry on this list, the gallery of the Hoi An Photographic Club is in the heart of the Old Town at 17 Nguyen Thai Hoc. While perhaps lesser-known than Couleurs D’Asie, the work shown here is not of lesser quality, though it is lower-priced. The gallery features the work of the eponymous Club, which was formed in 1998, and whose members have won numerous regional, domestic, and international awards for their photography. A visit to the Hoi An Photographic Club quickly reveals that it is so named not (solely) because of the hometown of its members, but because of the subject of their work, which is immediately recognizable and distinctively, artfully captured.
The prints are reasonably priced, and the gallery itself modestly arranged, with the photographs hung in simple wooden frames along the fading walls of an unassuming Old Town house. It’d be easy to miss; don’t, though — it’s definitely worth a visit.
Print & souvenir shop.
Ha is a well-established Hoi An artist producing detailed ink drawings and watercolour paintings of Vietnam’s hill tribes and some local scenes. All are available as postcards, greetings cards, mini prints, and canvas prints. Very affordable and modern, and located just before the Japanese Bridge. 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.
HaHa has just opened a second location quite close by to the main one and it stocks most of the same prints and works.
T & G Gallery (a.k.a 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. (Also called Rest Stop 57, because it has free restroom facilities).
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.
Unusual work – intimate studio and workshop.
With two locations both tucked away in little side streets, the Alley Artists studios show works from six accomplished artists. The paintings are diverse, and mostly expressionist. Also a studio and workshop for two of the talented Alley Artists, this quirky collective offers something different, shipping worldwide.
Ti Sa Gallery
Mid-range lacquer works from Hanoi.
There are many shops selling cheap ‘lacquer’ paintings of local scenes and girls in traditional dress. This gallery has a collection of contemporary and more traditional pieces at prices from 30-300 USD (695,000 – 7 million VND) and there are some real gems in here if you take the time to look. They are not made in Hoi An, but the higher quality and more interesting subject matter sets this gallery apart.
Phuc Loc Tho
Of interest to those with large interiors.
Phuc Luc Tho Gallery is a commercial gallery dealing in large scale canvasses for large interiors. The paintings are good quality, and they are well displayed. Around 10 artists are represented here. The paintings would be appropriate for large walls in corporate or hotel interiors. Worth a look.
Calligraphy at the Museum of Folk Culture
Eclectic space with masterful calligraphy.
Inside the folk theatre, past a collection of traditional Vietnamese masks and various other objects and souvenir items, you will find a wall devoted to the exquisite work of master calligraphers. Themes such as the eight elements of the bagua are depicted in traditional Vietnamese and Chinese stylized script on beautiful silk scrolls; they are available both for casual viewing and purchase at very reasonable prices. Worth a visit!
For those who like Expressive art and bold color.
Located just over the Japanese Bridge, the Co Gallery – one of Hoi An’s longest-established local galleries – 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. Minh, the artist, has run this gallery out of his own family home for about 20 years.
“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.
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