Vietnam’s thriving art scene is rife with fakes

The Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. Source: Shutterstock/EQRoy

WITH Vietnam’s growing middle class fueling economic growth, the country’s art scene is slowly but surely taking off.

Vietnamese art – while still niche – is gaining popularity across the globe in international auctions and is putting local artists on the map.

However, a recent report in The New York Times (NYT) revealed the industry is replete with frauds. A recent exhibition at Ho Chi Minh’s Fine Art Museum featured a painting by local artist Nguyen Thanh Chuong but had been credited to one of Vietnam’s most renowned artists, Ta Ty and dated 1952.

Chuong told NYT he recognized the painting as his own and was shocked to encounter it.

“I could not believe my eyes,” he said. “It made my hair stand on end.”

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The report said many pre-war Vietnamese paintings were fake and that the issue was one of the market’s biggest challenges. Many established art institutes and museums have been found guilty of stocking inauthentic pieces.

Due to this, artists, dealers, and collectors are worried it could drag down the value of Vietnamese art. This will incidentally affect the reputation of the gallery or institution that choose to display fake works.

Washington consulting firm Art Fraud Insights founder and director Colette Loll told NYT: “A museum is the ultimate venue to validate a work of art.”

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According to Verve, Ho Chi Minh City’s art scene has long struggled with the lack of expression, but it is flourishing these days, especially with the combat and propaganda art of the ’70s.

The article said the city’s contemporary art environment is now filled with artists increasingly open to pushing boundaries.

But if stricter enforcement and regulation on fakes do not come into place, the burgeoning scene and clout of local artists could effectively take a beating.