Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shopping for Paintings from Street-Side Artists in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam is home to a lot of famous artists, so it comes as no surprise, that you see a lot of artwork on display, as you walk along the streets of District 1, or downtown Ho Chi Minh.

On one of my trips with my boss, we saw this painting
in the airport, and we were told that it was several
hundred US dollars.
It sounded a bit expensive, so I told my boss, let's sneakily take a photo, and I will look for something similar for you, the next time I find myself in Ho Chi Minh City for work.

Two weeks or so after that, I was back, and this time around I had more time to walk around our District 1 neighborhood.
Local Vendor in front of the iconic Post Office.
Still the same vendor, this time in front of Notre Dame. 
Quaint Cafe I saw beside the Post Office, but I didn't
really have time to go in.

There were a lot of art galleries that lined the streets, but whenever I asked if they had a painting which had a house similar to the photo I took from the airport, the answer was always the same. They can do any painting I wanted! Hahaha, they even brought up websites of famous Vietnamese artists, and any painting there - they can do for US$100 for a 100cm x 100cm canvass.

Now, I appreciate the can-do spirit and all that, but it's a bit difficult to commission a painting for someone else. What if my boss doesn't like the design, or worse, what if we don't like how it is "copied"! Que horror! So I decided to just ask for their cards and continue on my walk.

Then I stumbled into this passage, across Vincom Shopping Mall.
Inside, there were three different artists at work,
similar to Mr. Cheng here.
I asked all of them if they had something similar to the house photo, and Mr. Cheng showed me this.
US$50 for 80cm x 80cm
The painting was quite nice, the texture of the leaves comes across quite well,
and the price was right. I immediate sent my boss a photo to ask if he wanted it.
I didn't have the heart to bargain with Mr. Cheng because
he was blind in one-eye, yet I loved how he still manages
to do what he loves, which is paint.
I even went back to buy a painting to go with the first one we chose, so that we could give it to my boss as his birthday gift, which he loved by the way.
Thank you Mr. Cheng for sharing with us your talent!

Instead of rolling up the canvass which is the norm, I opted to carry it home as is instead, as I was afraid, the textured part of the leaves might get damaged.

The concierge just brought me to the corner shop,
to wrap the paintings in bubble wrap for US$5 or so.
All set to fly home to the Philippines now.

Just a word of caution, if you are flying on Philippine Airlines, the 80cm x 80cm painting is a bit over the allowable check-in dimensions. They let me check it in only if I would agree to hand carry my smaller luggage with my instant pho, so while it is not a hard and fast rule, you can't maximize the size and weight as well of your allowance. They will only allow you to abuse one rule at a time, unless you have more charm then me and you get them to agree. Hahaha. just saying.

Art Gallery
26 Ly Tu Trong
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
*look for Mr Cheng on the left corner, 
immediately after entering the art gallery passageway

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