Posted on Dec 7, 2010
The contemporary art scene in Saigon has changed a great deal in the last decade. It used to be that one could only find commercial galleries that catered to tourists. More like little factories, these galleries thrive on churning out copies of canonical Western works and images of an “idyllic” Vietnam such as boys riding water buffaloes and young women wearing conical hats and silk tunics.
There are exceptions—four art spaces worth visiting in Saigon: Galerie Quynh, a commercial gallery; Dia, an art resource and residency; San Art, a nonprofit; and Zero Station, which just opened this summer.
Of the four spaces, Galerie Quynh is the oldest. Since its opening in 2003, the gallery works with a select group of emerging and established Vietnamese artists as well as a handful of recognized artists overseas.
Quynh Pham is the owner and curator of Galerie Quynh. She was born in Danang, Vietnam, and relocated to the U.S. in 1975. She received her education and training in art history at UCSD, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.
She first went back to Vietnam in late 1997, out of curiosity about the art scene. Three years later, she established an online resource with articles, images and information on the art scene there. Soon after, she opened her gallery, which was first located on Ly Tu Trong Street and has since moved to a 200-square-meter space on De Tham Street in District 1 of Saigon.
I had a chance to sit down with Quynh last summer to talk about the art scenes in Saigon and Hanoi, the role she envisions for her gallery, and some of the artists she represents.
Installation view of “Of Reveries and Obsessions” (2010), works by Tiffany Chung, Nadeije David, Do Hoang Tuong, Sandrine Llouquet and Tran Van Thao, Galerie Quynh, Saigon, Vietnam