Spirit of Friendship: chronology
September 9, 2021


* This historical timeline was last updated in January 2021


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is proclaimed. Saigon is re-named Ho Chi Minh City. Thousands flee by sea from the South, many of whom subsequently returned in the 1990s and continue to do so.

The ‘southern section’ of the Vietnam Fine Art Association is formed, presided over by Southern artists Nguyễn Thanh Châu, Quách Phong and Cổ Tấn Long Châu amongst others. The Vietnam Fine Art Association, through their re-education program, directs southern artists to adopt the dictum of Socialist Realism, “to merge into reality and serve the masses.” Re-educating artists requires field trips to “survey areas of agriculture, fishing, manufacturing or forestry.”
(Huỳnh-Beattie, Bội Trân. ‘Chapter 5: The Construction and De-construction of Vietnamese Aesthetics of the Post-War Period 1975-1990’ in ‘Vietnamese Aesthetics 1925 onwards’ (unpublished thesis), pg. 276.)

Cambodia-Vietnam War (1975 - 1979).


“The National Fine Art College of Saigon and the National College of Decorative Arts of Gia Dinh were amalgamated in 1976 and renamed the Fine Art College of Ho Chi Minh City. In 1981, it was renamed as the Fine Art University of Ho Chi Minh City. A decree signed by the Cultural Minister, Nguyễn Văn Hiếu, in 1976 stated the five functions of the college:
1. The training of cadres in painting, sculpture and art theories to college and vocational level.
2. To upgrade cadres gifted in painting and sculpture through short-term in-service classes.
3. The provision of in-service training to raise staff standards in the study of theories and material techniques in the plastic arts.
4. To assist the Cultural and Information departments in Lam Dong, Thuan Hai, and Southwards, in strengthening the art movements of the regional masses.  
5. To educate cadres and students in the political and ideological management of the College infrastructure and materials according to government policies and principles.
…. the college was placed under the umbrella of the Ministry of Culture and Information, similar to the College of Fine Art in Hanoi.”
(Huỳnh-Beattie, Bội Trân. ‘Chapter 5: The Construction and De-construction of Vietnamese Aesthetics of the Post-War Period 1975-1990’ in ‘Vietnamese Aesthetics 1925 onwards’ (unpublished thesis), ppg. 278-279)


The My Thuat (Fine Art) magazine, specialized publication of the Vietnam Fine Art Association, is founded in Hanoi. First Chief Editor is Southern artist Huỳnh Văn Gấm.

20 September 1977, Vietnam joins the United Nations.


Associate Professor Nguyễn Trân founds the department of Art Theory at the Hanoi University of Fine Art (otherwise known as the Art History Department).

Launch of the X2 campaign to crack down on foreign-aligned capitalists and national bourgeoisie.


Sino-Vietnam War
“... Early morning on February 1979, 600,000 Chinese soldiers crossed the border, starting the 30-day intensive war across six provinces of Vietnam including Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lang Son and Quang Ninh, which continue to last 10 years after… In 1988, the situation gradually subsided as the two sides actively withdraw their armies. On September 26, 1989, intense "detonators" were released in both the North and the South. In 1991, Vietnam - China announced the normalization of relations…”
(Excerpt from ‘Chiến tranh biên giới - những dấu mốc không thể lãng quên’. Published on VNExpress, written by Hoàng Phương.


Implementation of the third Five-Year Plan (1980-1985) where conservative economic goals are set. During this period, the reversal of the nationalisation programme begins with the privatisation of the agriculture sector.


Campaign against Imperialism: “Old publications were forbidden then confiscated. A process repeated over and over, until no trace of banned items was left. In 1981, six years after the conquest of Saigon, the cultural police mounted a new operation against old publications and any new releases regarded as unorthodox. Three months later, the campaign published a tally of its accomplishments in the October issue of Tap chi Cong San (The Communist Review). It revealed data regarding the millions of copies destroyed nationwide, 60 tons of printed material from Saigon alone.”
(Võ Phiến. 1992. ‘Literature in South Vietnam 1954-1975’. Vietnamese Language & Culture Publication, p.5.)


“... the Congress of Fine Art in 1983 elected a new executive board. The Vietnam Fine Art Association changes its name to the Vietnam Association of Plastic Artists, divided into departments and committees. Of course, the most exciting department of all is the ‘composing department’ led by artist Đặng Thị Khuê (1946 -)...” (Nguyễn Quân. ‘Hai triển lãm cá nhân phất cờ đổi mới’. My Thuat va Nhiep Anh (Fine Art and Photography) magazine. August 2014). Đặng Thị Khuê is considered one of the leading figures in reforming the visual art of Vietnam at that time.

Bùi Đình Thản - founder of Đức Minh private art collection, one of Vietnam’s first and most important collections of Vietnamese modernist art - passes away. The Đức Minh private art collection starts in the 1950s, supporting the livelihood of many historically-significant artists who, at the time, are not unrecognized by the official body.


The Vietnamese government starts to acknowledge the masters of Vietnamese modernist painting - Bùi Xuân Phái, Dương Bích Liên, Nguyễn Tư Nghiêm and Nguyễn Sáng - due to their evident popularity, but also for their artistic contribution publicly perceived as national icons. They come to be referred to as the ‘Four Pillars’ by the 1990s. All four subsequently hold official solo exhibitions in Hanoi (except Dương Bích Liên who declines).
(Huynh-Beattie, Bội Trân. ‘Chapter 5: The Construction and De-construction of Vietnamese Aesthetics of the Post-War Period 1975-1990’ in ‘Vietnamese Aesthetics 1925 onwards’ (unpublished thesis), pg. 301)

Art historian, critic and painter, Nguyễn Quân (b. 1948, Hanoi) is appointed editor-in-chief of the art magazine My Thuat (Fine Art), published by the Fine Art Publishing House, a subsidy of the Ministry of Culture and organized by the Vietnam Fine Art Association. He is dismissed in 1989 (largely due to his advocation of international ideas of art-for-art’s sake).
(Taylor, Nora. ‘Postwar Artists and Reformers’, in ‘Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art’. NUS Press, Singapore, 2009, pp. 89-90).


Nguyễn Quân is elected into the executive committee of the Vietnam Fine Art Association. He organizes the first ‘artist workshop’ in Dai Lai (North Vietnam), with approximately 30 students (including the likes of Bùi Xuân Phái and Lê Huy Tiếp). Nora Taylor writes, “While the purpose of the project was to create a forum for discussion about art, it is clear that the retreat not only promoted individual expression and art for art’s sake, it also went against what the state had instituted over the past three decades in that it allowed for artists to explore their individuality rather than represent the collective sentiments of their community… Đặng Thị Khuê said that she felt that the workshop solidified friendships among artists, who felt they had formed a real group. ‘It gave us confidence in expressing our ideas, because we were no longer alone. We could support each other.”
(Taylor, Nora. ‘Postwar Artists and Reformers’, in ‘Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art’. NUS Press, Singapore, 2009, pp. 89-90)


Implementation of the fourth Five-Year Plan, known as ‘Đổi Mới’ (or ‘Renovation’), where the idea of a socialist orientated market policy is introduced. This heralds an economic period of reform of significant impact on the attitude and capacity of art and artists in Vietnam.


The government founds the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Art on Pho Duc Chinh street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

David Thomas establishes Indochina Arts Partnership (IAP). A Vietnam veteran, David returns to Vietnam and dedicates IAP as an organization for art, cultural, and educational exchanges between the United States and Vietnam. Since founding, the IAP has supported more than fifty artists and cultural representatives through its  programs.

October: Implementation of Decree 05 about Arts and Culture  to unshackle thoughts by encouraging artists and writers to speak out and criticise society (penned by Trần Độ and signed by General secretary Nguyễn Văn Linh). Afterward, when this movement spirals out of control, some artists and writers are jailed or framed for treason. The Decree also regulates the management and development of cultural activities, declaring artist activities should follow artist’s wish to freely create and speak; while also managing such activities (ie. requiring government approval of their activities).
(Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn. 2004: ‘Socialist Realism in Vietnamese Literature’. Victoria University, Faculty of Arts: p. 266.
Abuza, Zachary  2001: Renovating Politics in Contemporary Vietnam. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. p.133)


First known exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City, since 1975, initiated by independent artists (as opposed to government initiated) Nguyễn Trung Tín, Đỗ Hoàng Tường, Hoài Hương and Nguyễn Thanh Bình at the gallery space of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association. (Interview between Nguyễn Trung Tín, Nguyễn Thanh Bình, Đỗ Hoàng Tường and Lê Thiên Bảo, September 2017)

Ca Lê Thắng (of the Group of 10) is appointed Deputy General Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association.


Nguyễn Quân resigns from his position in the Vietnam Fine Art Association. “1989 was a backlash year. Things had opened up in the early 1980s and artists were encouraged to be expressive, and then in 1989, at the art congress, conservatives in the art association decided not to let artists be entirely free.”
(Nora Taylor in conversation with Nguyễn Quân, October, 1993. Taylor, Nora. 2004. ‘Painters in Hanoi. An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art’. University of Hawaii Press, p. 89-90)

The first ‘Ho Chi Minh City Young Artists’ exhibition is organized by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tự Do art gallery, established by painter Trần Thị Thu Hà, the first privately-owned commercial art gallery in Ho Chi Minh City, opens. ‘Tự do’ means ‘liberty’.
(See timeline in ‘Post-Doi Moi: Vietnamese Art After 1990’ (exhibition catalog). Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2008, pg.175)


The first ‘National Young Artists’ exhibition is organized by the Vietnam Fine Art Association in Hanoi.


Collapse of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on 25 December 1991.

‘Uncorked Souls’ group exhibition organized by Plum Blossoms Gallery (Hong Kong) and Art Gallery 7 Hang Khay (the first state-owned gallery under the Ministry of Culture, established in Hanoi in 1965, selling artistic goods approved by the State; only started functioning as an art gallery in 1988, following the implementation of ‘Doi Moi’) takes place in Hong Kong with the work of 15 Vietnamese artists, featuring: Bùi Xuân Phái, Nguyễn Tư Nghiêm, Lê Công Thành, Phạm Việt Hải, Trần Lưu Hậu, Trịnh Cung, Nguyễn Trung, Hoàng Đăng Nhuận, Đỗ Thị Ninh, Bửu Chi, Nguyễn Quân, Nguyễn Thân, Bùi Suối Hoa, Đặng Xuân Hoà, Trần Trọng Vũ.
(‘Uncorked souls: Contemporary art from Vietnam’ (exhibition catalog). Plum Blossoms Gallery, Hong Kong, 1991.

Nguyễn Văn Tuyên and Gallery 40 (Ho Chi Minh City) co-organize ‘La Reflection du Vietnam’ at Château de la Rotonde, Paris (France), featuring artists from Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyễn Tấn Cương, Nguyễn Thanh Bình, Trần Văn Thảo , Đỗ Hoàng Tường, Ca Lê Thắng, Vũ Hà Nam, Quỳnh Hương, Trần Hữu Tri, Alice Dung, Dương Tuấn Kiệt, Sĩ Tuấn, Hứa Thanh Bình, Lê Triều Điển, Võ Anh Thơ, Huỳnh Phú Hà; and artists from Hanoi: Trịnh Thái, Đào Trọng Lưu, Nguyễn Lai, Phạm Luận, Võ Tá Hùng, Văn Chiến, Linh Chi, Trần Quang Đán, Huy Quang, Mai Văn Kế, Đặng Nhân amongst other.
(Interview between Sơn Nguyễn, owner of Gallery 40, and Lê Thiên Bảo, July 2017)

The first issue of the magazine My Thuat (Fine Art) of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association (facilitated by Ca Lê Thắng and Nguyễn Trung) is published.

L’Espace (previously known as ‘Alliance Francaise’) opens at 42 Yet Kieu street, Hanoi; relocates to 24 Trang Tien street in 2003. Their present activities include performances, film screenings, workshops, conferences, theater reading and acting. The space also houses a multimedia library and an exhibition space for contemporary creation.


First abstract exhibition by Group of 10 titled ‘Recent Works’, at the gallery of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association, featuring work by artists Nguyễn Trung, Ca Lê Thắng, Ngô Đồng, Nguyễn Tấn Cương, Nguyễn Trung Tín, Hứa Thanh Bình, Nguyễn Thanh Bình, Đỗ Hoàng Tường, Trần Văn Thảo, Vũ Hà Nam. Following this exhibition, the Vietnamese government decide to give approval for the practice of abstract art, demonstrated in their first official abstraction exhibition in the country at Hong Hac gallery, inside the South East Armed Forces Museum, organized by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture & Information, The Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association and the South East Armed Forces Museum from 20-31 May, 1992 (Le Duan street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) – this recognition largely facilitated by Colonel Phan Oánh, art historian Nguyễn Quân and Group of 10 artist members Ca Lê Thắng and Đào Minh Tri. In Nov 1992, Group of 10 realises one more abstract exhibition at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association, with the withdrawal of artist Ngô Đồng anh the official participation of artist Đào Minh Tri.
(Interview between artist Nguyễn Trung Tín and Lê Thiên Bảo, July, 2017. For further information see Nguyễn Trung Tín. ‘Trừu tượng trên đất Sài Gòn’ (‘Abstraction in Saigon’). The Fine Art Information, issue 31-32, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Art, Sep 2010, pg.17-18.)


Nguyễn Xuân Tiệp participates in the 1st Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.

Mai Gallery is opened as one of the first private art galleries to appear in Hanoi by the poet Dương Tường (a revered pillar of Hanoi’s independent intellectual tradition from the 1960s until today) and his daughter Trần Phương Mai, showing modernist, commercial and non-conventional art. Prior to their relocation to Hang Bong street (taking on a more commercial tone), Mai Gallery is stationed at Dương Tường’s private home (Phan Huy Chu street) which, before the times of Salon Natasha and Nhà Sàn Studio, is Hanoi’s ‘multidisciplinary club’ and meeting place for generations of intellectuals and artists from all walks of life, such as Nguyễn Tuân (author), Bùi Xuân Phái and Dương Bích Liên (two of the ‘Four pillars’ of Vietnamese Modernist art), Hà Trí Hiếu and Ðặng Xuân Hoà (of ‘Gang of Five’), Ðỗ Phấn (author), Hoàng Cầm (poet), Nguyễn Quân (artist/critic), Bảo Ninh (author), Dương Thu Hương (author), Hoàng Lập Ngôn (artist) amongst others.
(Bùi Ngọc Tấn. ‘Tôi là bạn của ông Dương Tường’ in ‘Rừng Xưa Xanh Lá'. (English: ‘I am friend with Dương Tường’ in ‘Rung Xua Xanh La').

The British Council is established in Hanoi (later in Ho Chi Minh City in 1997) as the cultural section of the British Embassy. At the beginning it functions as a modest operation including English Language Training (ELT), information, education and science exchange programmes; and by 2001 gets more involved in the local art scene.


US lifts its 30 year trade embargo on Vietnam.

Đặng Xuân Hoà (a member of the Gang of Five) is the first artist invited to visit the US supported by the Indochina Arts Partnership (IAP), a visiting artist program sponsored by the Asian Cultural Council.

German artist, Veronika Radulovic arrives in Hanoi as a guest lecturer with Hanoi Fine Art University, supported by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). She stays in Vietnam until 2002, credited as instrumental in introducing conceptual ideas of installation and performance.

Olivier Mourgue d’Algue, Daniel Howald and Trần Thanh Hà establish their art collection Post Vidai, dedicated to the artists of Vietnam, focusing on art produced predominantly after 1970. It now holds over 400 works of art by local and diasporic Vietnamese artists. The majority of this collection is housed in Geneva, Switzerland.

Some of the first known installation-oriented artworks begin to appear in Hanoi:
• Critic Đào Mai Trang comments: “In 1994, painter Nguyễn Bảo Toàn presented the ceramic exhibition ‘Soil through Fire’ in a completely new format. The ceramic works are combined together ... to create three-dimensional models ... The public can now touch and interact directly with the works, and not just simply look at them... Thus, it cannot be deemed a typical ceramic sculpture exhibition. So what is it then?”
(Đào Mai Trang. ‘Mỹ thuật đương đại Việt Nam liên ứng với thế giới – Nhìn từ Hà Nội’. 2006
http://www.talawas.org/talaDB/showFile.php?res= 7392 & rb = 11).
• Or in 1996, upon his graduation, Nguyễn Minh Thành - known as one of the advocates of installation art, creates in his first ever solo show (at the Exhibition House 29 Hang Bai) an environment of hanging vertical coloured cotton panels and other objects, “an extremely avant-garde action in the Vietnamese art scene”, comments Natalia Kraevskaia.
(Kraevskaia, Natalia. ‘Windows of Life. The art of Nguyễn Minh Thành’. Art Asia Pacific.


Vietnam and the US restore full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Artists start to be enlisted to participate in regional SEA exhibitions.

Several experimentations with performance art start taking place in Hanoi, outside the conventional art galleries and museums:
• Artist Đinh Anh Quân stages a performance (the “first recorded performance of this type”) in the Temple of Literature compound, Hanoi
(Taylor, Nora. ‘Anti-Art and Anti-Vietnamese Artists: Experimental Performance Culture in Hanoi’s Alternative Exhibition Spaces’, Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pps. 108–128. 2007.
• Trương Tân - the ‘enfant terrible’ and first openly gay artist of the local art scene - carries out what is “considered the first performance art piece in Vietnam” at the private apartment of Nguyễn Quang Huy (of Hanoi Triad) on Hang Chuoi street, Hanoi
(Interview with Trương Tân. ‘Tôi thường cảm thấy rất cô đơn. Ngay cả trong nghệ thuật’. 2010.
• Singaporean artist Amanda Heng, Trương Tân, Nguyễn Minh Thành (of Hanoi Triad) and other students in “the first art performance at the University of Arts in Hanoi [which] took place in the director’s office.”
(Radulovic, Veronika. ‘Anything can happen between now and then’. Essays On Modern And Contemporary Vietnamese Art. 2009. Singapore Art Museum).


Vũ Dân Tân, Đặng Thị Khuê and Mai Anh Dũng participate in the 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia.

Trần Thị Huỳnh Nga establishes Blue Space Contemporary Art Centre in the grounds of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Museum, the first commercial gallery in South Vietnam supporting experimental art practice.

The Ford Foundation officially establishes its office in Hanoi, providing grants in Development Finance; Education and Scholarship; Environment and Development; International Cooperation; Media, Arts and Culture; and Sexuality and Reproductive Health. This office closes in 2009; its remaining art collection (including works by Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Lý Trần Quỳnh Giang, Phạm Huy Thông and Jamie Maxtone-Graham amongst others) in Vietnam is subsequently auctioned in the hope of establishing a new fund to support Vietnamese artists. USD42,000 is raised and managed by the British Council under the ‘British Council Arts Fund’

The Singapore Art Museum opens its doors in a restored 19th Century mission school, focusing on international contemporary art practices, specialising in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It becomes a critical centre for networking artists from across the region, with select Vietnamese artists subsequently acquired for their collection. The Singapore Art Museum becomes the key organizer of the Singapore Biennale (from 2011 onwards).


Nguyên Cầm - an artist based in France - holds a 6-month workshop, named 'Parcours', with students of the Hanoi University of Fine Art (with support from L'Espace), and together create a group exhibition. Critic Đào Mai Trang comments: “It must be emphasized again that Hanoi in 1997 still lacked information about global contemporary art, only trickles here and there through private channels.  Thus, formal activities such as this cooperation between L'Espace and the Hanoi Fine Art University in the case of Nguyên Cầm are very beneficial for the local art scene.”
(Đào Mai Trang. ‘Mỹ thuật đương đại Việt Nam liên ứng với thế giới – Nhìn từ Hà Nội’. 2006.

Goethe Institut opens in Hanoi on Hang Duong street, relocating to Nguyen Thai Hoc street in 2003. It has since been at the forefront of fostering the development of the local artistic landscape and cultural exchanges with Germany and Europe through a broad range of activities such as exhibitions, workshops, performances and researches amongst others. The Ho Chi Minh City office opens in 2004.

Installation and performance art is officially recognized as an art form in Ho Chi Minh City, demonstrated by the exhibition held at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Art in April 1997, featuring work by Lê Tùng Quan, Mai Anh Dũng, Đỗ Xuân Tịnh, Cao Tuân, Nguyễn Hồng Sơn, Ngô Thái Uyên, Ly Hoàng Ly, Ngô Lực, Nguyễn Như Huy, Nguyễn Minh Phương, Nguyễn Thị Kiều Giang, Châu Giang, Phan Đình Phúc amongst others. Two of the first known officially sanctioned exhibitions of installation art in Hanoi are Nguyễn Minh Thành' solo show (1996) and the Japanese-Vietnamese artist Jun Nguyễn-Hatsushiba’s solo show ‘Dream' (1997), both at the state-owned Exhibition house 29 Hang Bai street.


Vietnam joins APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

July: Culture is defined more precisely as an advanced Vietnamese culture with an imbued national identity under the guideline of Marxist-Leninism and Hồ Chí Minh’s ideology (General Secretary Lê Khả Phiêu in the ‘Resolution Nr. 03-NQ/TW’ dated 16 Jul 1998).


Nguyễn Minh Thành and Nguyễn Trung Tín participate in the 3rd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia.

The House of World Cultures (Berlin) organises a four-month long program devoted to Vietnamese culture, including a conference on Vietnamese political, social and religious issues, a theatre festival and a fashion show. One of the components of this multifaceted program is the exhibition 'Gap Viet Nam' (‘Meeting with Vietnam’), curated by Veronika Radulovic, one of the largest exhibitions of Vietnamese contemporary art outside of Vietnam at the time, with works by: Nguyễn Văn Cường, Nguyễn Minh Thành, Nguyễn Quang Huy, Lê Hồng Thái, Đỗ Minh Tâm, Vũ Bích Thuỷ, Nghiêm Xuân Bình, Đinh Thị Thắm Poong, Lương Thị Ánh Tuyết, Eric Leroux, Maritta Nurmi, Trương Tân, Mai Chí Thành, Nguyễn Như Ý, Trần Thiều Quang, Phùng Phạm, Lê Tuấn Anh, Bùi Hữu Hùng, Vũ Dân Tân, Jun Nguyễn-Hatsushiba amongst others.

Đào Anh Khánh opens his studio (Duong River, Gia Lam, Hanoi), hosting multimedia stage productions, with choreographed dance performances, music and light shows, attracting “greater media coverage than most performance art in Vietnam and fall under the category of spectacle,” Nora Taylor notes, “.... [presenting] a dilemma for some of the younger performance artists who are trying to break away from commercial forms of art. While they are encouraged by the attention that his performances have received, they are worried that mass appeal would undermine their own notions of ‘experimental’ or ‘alternative’ art. Thus there are at least two definitions of performance art, and Đào Anh Khánh’s events present only one of these forms. Other artists, like Đinh Anh Quân, Trần Lương and Trương Tân, present ‘rougher’ or more spontaneous forms of performance art.”
(Taylor, Nora. ‘Anti-Art and Anti-Vietnamese Artists: Experimental Performance Culture in Hanoi’s Alternative Exhibition Spaces’’, Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pps. 108–128. 2007.


The Contemporary Art Centre opens in Hanoi with the support of the Ford Foundation, administered by the Vietnam Fine Art Association, directed by artist Trần Lương until 2003 (who resigns due to government and administrational restraints imposed on the program).

Hue Festival (taking place every two years) officially launches with the help of the French Embassy in Vietnam, often in collaboration with and inviting foreign artists from around the world to participate in the fields of dance, theater and music. One of the very few official festivals in Vietnam that include visual arts, particularly installation art.  

Ly Hoàng Ly performs the piece ‘Water' at ‘NIPAF’ (Nippon International Performance Art Festival, Japan). She is the first Vietnamese artist to participate in the festival, and the initiator of an artistic relationship and collaboration between Vietnamese and Japanese performance artists which is still on-going today.


Mai's Gallery is established in Ho Chi Minh City by Mai T. T. Đỗ (also the director of the creative hub 3A Station, established 2015), a commercial initiative that runs sporadic experimental art events. Closes 2017.

The influential online forum Talawas launches, with articles and discussions on the literature, culture, and politics of Vietnam, including contributions by well-known Vietnamese and foreign authors, writers, researchers and scholars from inside and outside the country. Suspends all activities in 2010.  All materials still available online.

Experiments with video art begin to appear in these early manifestations:
• In 2001, Lê Vũ and Nguyễn Trí Mạnh co-create ‘Tắm' ('Bathing’) at Mao Khe coal mine;
• In 2003, the British Council sponsor the installation art and video art project ‘Fairy soup’, “which was mediocre… However in 2004, in the project ‘Giving Water an Image’ (curated Veronika Radulovic) we get to encounter more exciting and professional works by younger artists such as Lưu Chí Hiếu, Lê Trần Hậu Anh, Giang Nguyệt Ánh, Trần Quang Dũng…” (Bùi Như Hương - Phạm Trung. ‘Nghệ thuật Đương đại Việt Nam 1990-2010’. 2002. Tri Thuc Publishing house. p. 40).
• Artist Nguyễn Thế Sơn shares more about ‘Giving Water an Image’: “It was a very important project in the context of the Hanoi art scene in the early 2000s, having left deep impressions on artists, especially in how else art-making can be approached ... The project begins with a keyword and a concept (water), and not material - the exact opposite method of formal education in university.”
(From conversation between Bill Nguyễn and Nguyễn Thế Sơn, August 2017)


Suzanne Lecht opens Art Vietnam in Hanoi, a commercial gallery with strong international networks, particularly committed to experimental practices not taught within the art educational system of Vietnam.

A collaborative educational project between the Vietnam University of Fine Art (Hanoi) and Umeå Academy of Fine Arts (Sweden) is initiated as part of a ‘SIDA’-run project (‘SIDA’ standing for the ‘Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’) with the main goals of establishing an intermedia department (focusing on video art and photography) at the Vietnam University of Fine Art, and extending knowledge on art production and critical reflection. Consequently, several exchanges between the two institutions take place, including: Umeå professors of New Media art, Curation and Art Writing and Criticism  running workshops in Vietnam; Vietnamese teachers and students sent to Umeå for further education; a number of collaborative exhibitions, and in 2007, for the first time, a video art and photography facility centre is opened at the Vietnam University of Fine Art with state-of-the-art equipments, but fails to conduct any proper program due to administrational insufficiency. This collaboration ends in 2010. A similar collaboration takes place in Hue with the Hue University of Art but with a much different outcome, resulting in the official opening of the Multimedia sub-department (within the Painting department) in 2013; and the graduation of its first class in 2016.
http://www.art.umu.se/en/research/research-archive/other-projects/project-hanoi/?qstr=Vietnam and http://mythuatvietnam.edu.vn/?p=5528)


Galerie Quỳnh is established in Ho Chi Minh City by Quỳnh Phạm, the first Viet Kieu to establish a commercial gallery in South Vietnam, predominantly committed to representing Southern Vietnamese artists in its early years.

Performance art-based group Project One by Ly Hoàng Ly, Ngô Thái Uyên, Bùi Công Khánh, R. Streitmatter-Trần and Nguyễn Phạm Trung Hậu is formed as the result of the project ‘Pushing through Borders’ (initiated by Anida Yoeu Esguerra and Ly Hoàng Ly, hosted by Blue Space Contemporary Art Center, Ho Chi Minh City). The group disband in 2005.

Multimedia group exhibition ‘Red - Green - Yellow’, curated by Trần Lương (including video, installation and performance art), opens at the Goethe Institut (Hanoi), introducing the work of 16 artists based in Vietnam: Nguyễn Quỳnh Chi, Nguyễn Văn Cường, Phạm Ngọc Dương, Lê Quang Ðỉnh, Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Nguyễn Quang Huy, Trần Lương, Nguyễn Trí Mạnh, Nguyễn Minh Phước, Nguyễn Quân, Veronika Radulovic, Brian Ring, Nguyễn Minh Thành, Vũ Thụy, Trương Tân and Lê Vũ. Critic Bùi Như Hương considers it a ‘turning point’ of the local art scene, stating, “[The exhibition] marks the transformation of the characteristics of art and the understanding of what art is… from modernist to contemporary, and now conversing with the current trends of arts around the world.”
(Bùi Như Hương. ‘Triển lãm Xanh - Ðỏ - Vàng: Bước ngoặt thứ hai của nghệ thuật Việt Nam thời kỳ đổi mới’.


First US commercial flights since the end of the Vietnam War, touches down in Ho Chi Minh City.

March: German contemporary artist, Gerhard Richter, is granted exhibition at the Vietnam Museum of Fine Art in Hanoi. The following November, another German master, Wolfgang Laib, is shown at the Hanoi University of Fine Art. Both exhibitions are organized by the Goethe Institute.

Gallery Ryllega is established by artists Nguyễn Minh Phước and Vũ Hữu Thuỵ on Trang Tien street, which at the time, among Nhà Sàn Studio, is one of the only two self-organised galleries for experimental and non-commercial contemporary art in Hanoi. Closes 2008.

‘Lim Dim’ (‘Half-closed Eyes’) - Hanoi’s first international performance art festival - takes place. Curated by Trần Lương, with sponsorship and support from Goethe Institut, British Council and Nhà Sàn Studio; and participation of artists from Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Britain, France, Germany amongst others.


June: In order to serve public needs of education in history, culture and science, a master plan of a museum system in the whole country is approved (Phạm Gia Khiêm signed the Decision Nr. 156/2005/QĐ-TTg on 23.06.2005: Approval of the master plan of Vietnamese museum system until 2020, ART 1, 2.a).

The Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF) of the Danish Embassy launches, providing support to contemporary artists and cultural activities in Vietnam, and to cultural exchanges between Denmark and Vietnam. CDEF is considered one of the most significant Vietnam-based funding bodies.

Đinh Q Lê's solo exhibition ‘Vietnam: Destination for the New Millennium’ takes place at the Asia Society in New York. He is the first Vietnamese artist to do so.

Mogas Station is formed, and produce the ‘Ạ ART’ magazine project for the 1st Singapore Biennale (2006). The group includes artists Sandrine Llouquet and Bertrand Peret (Wonderful District), Rich Streitmatter-Trần (Dia Projects), Jun Nguyễn Hatsushiba, Hoàng Dương Cầm, and photographer Gulschan Gothel and architect Tâm Phi Vo. Currently dormant.

November: Himiko Visual Café is founded by visual artist Himiko Nguyễn (Nguyễn Kim Hoàng). “If artists want to exhibit in Sàn Art... or Galerie Quỳnh,” she says, “they need to write a proposal and this is difficult. With Himiko they got a yes. I understand them.”
(Interview with Word Vietnam Magazine in December 2013.


Đinh Q Lê and Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn participate in the 4th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia.

‘Saigon Open City’, the country’s first international large-scale contemporary art exhibition, co-curated by Gridthiya Gaeweewong and Rirkrit Tiravanija, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, fails as an exhibition project due to government demands and organizational mismanagement.


January: After 12 years of talks, Vietnam becomes the 150th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Studio Thọ opens in Hanoi, a commercial gallery with the desire to support emerging Vietnamese artists.

Two-year traveling project ‘Trans-POP: Vietnam Korea Mix’ (co-curated by Việt Lê and Yong Soon Min) exhibited at RKO Art Center (Seoul); Sàn Art and Galerie Quynh (Ho Chi Minh City); University Art Gallery (UC Irvine); and Yerba Buena Art Center (San Francisco), introducing a dynamic mix of 6 critically acclaimed artists from Korea, Vietnam, and the United States, signaling an engagement with the rich historic and contemporary linkages between Vietnam and Korea.

Another significant performance art event - 'Sneaky Week', curated by Phạm Đức Tùng (sponsored by Art Network Asia - ANA) - takes place in Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City, including artists from three cities performing in a "guerrilla" style in various public spaces; documented in photos and video which are subsequently displayed as an exhibition.


May: Singapore Art Museum organizes ‘Symposium on Modern and Contemporary Vietnamese Art’, in conjunction with their exhibition ‘Post-Doi Moi: Vietnamese Art After 1990’. This symposium is the first of its kind with a concentration on modern and contemporary visual art of a Southeast Asian country, examining the developments that take place in Vietnam since the colonial period until the present, and addressing the differences in the developments in the North and the South. The resulting publication (with these lectures transcribed) includes essays by other important key players in the field of Vietnamese art from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Vietnam and Singapore. This entire endeavor forms part of ‘Vietnam Festival’, an integrated program of the National Heritage Board of Singapore to celebrate the 35 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and Vietnam.

Đông Sơn Today Foundation opens a dedicated office in Hanoi, with a focus on running education workshops and providing funding for exhibitions by local artists. Directed by artist Nguyễn Minh Phước (co-founder of Gallery Ryllega). Closes 2009.

The Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF) of the Danish Embassy hosts the ‘Talent Prize in Performance art’. Winner Phạm Văn Trường

The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam opens, implementing a variety of cultural activities and projects to promote cultural and artistic exchanges between Vietnam and Japan.


The first ‘Young Art Biennale’ is organized by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association & the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Art, held at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Museum.

The Dogma Prize is established by the Dogma Collection (founded by Dominic Scriven). The purpose of the prize is to encourage and promote Vietnamese artists, whether resident in Vietnam or overseas, through a focus on self-portraiture, from all disciplines.

Bùi Công Khánh participates in the 6th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia.

Betty Bùi opens Bùi Gallery, a commercial gallery, in Hanoi (followed by Bùi Gallery in Singapore the year after). Both initiatives last less than two years.

Craig Thomas opens Craig Thomas Gallery, a commercial gallery based in Ho Chi Minh City, hosting regular exhibitions of emerging and mid-career Vietnamese artists.

Trần Lương curates ‘Lim Dim’, for TrAP (Transnational Arts Production), in collaboration with the Sternersen Museum (Oslo, Norway). Featuring the work of Vũ Hồng Ninh, Trương Tân, Trần Trọng Vũ, Phạm Ngọc Dương, Nguyễn Văn Phúc, Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, Phunam, Nguyễn Trinh Thi, Nguyễn Quang Huy, Nguyễn Minh Phước, Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Nguyễn Huy An, Lê Vũ, Đinh Q Lê and Lại Thị Diệu Hà. ‘Lim Dim’ (‘Half-closed Eyes’) “is a way to describe somebody that is either partly asleep, maybe in deep thought or possibly studying other people behind cover. The title describes a state of being that refers to a new and young generation Vietnamese artists with little recognition in their home country.”
(Exhibition introduction. Transnational Arts Production.

July, 31: New York Times reports “Even the director of the Vietnam Fine Art Museum here doesn’t know how many of the artworks and artifacts under his care are genuine and how many are extremely skillful copies. But he says he is going to try to find out. “We are making efforts to have a comprehensive review of items on display and in our warehouse,” said the director, Trương Quốc Bình. “After we evaluate the whole exhibit, we will try to label them all to show if they are original or not.” Mr. Bình has been addressing questions about authenticity a lot lately. Curators and artists have been aware of the issue for years, but it became a matter of public discussion only in April, when it was raised at a conference on copyright in Danang.”


Đinh Q Lê's ‘The Farmers and the Helicopters’ (2006) sculptural video installation (co-produced by Tuấn  Andrew Nguyễn and Phunam of ‘The Propeller Group’) is exhibited as solo exhibition ‘Project 93’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. This work is subsequently purchased for its collection, making it one of the first significant installations to be acquired by a US institution by a Vietnamese artist living and working in Vietnam. In the same year, Lê receives a ‘Prince Claus Laureate Award’, from the Prince Claus Foundation, honoring him ‘... for his strong creative work exploring different constructions of reality, for providing inspiration and practical opportunities for young artists, and for advancing free thought and contemporary visual expression in a context of indifference and hostility.’

Mường Studio - an art center belonging to the Mường's Cultural Museum, located in North West of Vietnam - is founded; including an artist-in-residency program and open air exhibition space for outdoor sculptures, installations and land art. In 2013, together with Trần Lương, they launch the art project ‘Initiative – Contemporary Arts Museum’ (‘I-CAMP’), aiming to display large scale works. Participating artists include: Nguyễn Huy An; Ngô Thành Bắc, Trương Công Tùng, Phạm Hồng, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai, Nguyễn Trí Mạnh, Phan Thảo Nguyên, Vũ Hồng Ninh, Nguyễn Thế Sơn, Nguyễn Xuân Sơn (Sơn X), Nguyễn Trinh Thi, Lương Huệ Trinh and Triệu Minh Hải.

Online art journal SOI is launched, with a focus on reviewing local artistic practice and exhibitions, translating select foreign material, and providing an interactive, no-filter platform for public commenting. SOI ceases their activities in 2017 (all materials still available at www.soi.com.vn)

Dia Projects, a contemporary art experiment, is established by artist Richard Streitmatter-Trần, examining the intersection of artistic research, art practice, and conversation. In 2015, Dia Projects launches an exhibition space in Ho Chi Minh City, co-founded with Trần Thanh Hà.

ZeroStation is founded by Nguyễn Như Huy as an alternative art space that bridges the relationship between the audience and contemporary art, and between artists and their present local context, via a range of discursive and exhibition programs in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cultural Development and Exchange Fund’ (CDEF) of the Danish Embassy hosts the ‘Talent Prize in Painting’. Winner Phạm Tuấn Tú.

‘IN:ACT’ - Nhà Sàn's serial event dedicated to performance art - launches with the participation of 11 foreign and 9 local artists. Co-curated by Nguyễn Phương Linh, Bill Nguyễn and Gabby Quỳnh-Anh Miller.


Vietnam’s longest-running non-profit artist initiative Nhà Sàn Studio unofficially closes following female artist Lại Thị Diệu Hà's performance (as part of the 2010 ‘IN:ACT’, Nhà Sàn's international performance art festival), in which the artist takes off her clothes and says farewell to items of clothing that for years have restricted her from escaping society’s idea of the perfect female body. Photos of the piece – without any background information or explanation – floods the Internet, sparking debate about public decency and national traditions. This initiative reopens as Nhà Sàn Collective in 2013 (and is still running).


Tiffany Chung, An-My Lê, Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Nguyễn Minh Phước, Nguyễn Thái Tuấn, The Propeller Group participate in the 7th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia.

Manzi Art Space is established in Hanoi by Trâm Vũ, Giang Đặng and Bill Nguyễn - this cafe/gallery/bar becomes a popular cultural hub for the intersection of visual art, film, literature and music particularly.

‘CUCA’ (Course on Understanding Contemporary Art), initiated and directed by artist Phạm Diệu Hương (then teacher of Vietnam University of Fine Art), launches in Hanoi as the first independent education program opened to people of different ages and backgrounds, focusing on different areas of the arts including the visual art, music, architecture, dance and philosophy.


Singapore Biennale opens its fourth edition ‘If The World Changed’ with a collaborative curatorial model that combines the expertise of 27 co-curators, 2 of which are from Vietnam: Trần Lương and Nguyễn Như Huy.

CUC Gallery opens - a commercial gallery that by 2014 possesses two spaces - one at the Keangnam Landmark Tower in Tu Liem District in the outer suburbs of Hanoi, and a collaboration with the Vietnam Women’s Museum on their top floor in Hoan Kiem District, central Hanoi.

Work Room Four (currently stationed in Tay Ho District, Hanoi) is founded by the Hanoi-based English designers and educators Claire Driscoll and Dorian Gibb with a focus on creative collaboration to push boundaries between disciplines via educational activities and visual art exhibitions.

Six Space is established by artist Lê Giang as an artist-run art space and educational platform in Hanoi.

December - Hanoi authorities shuts down Zone 9 (after its opening in early 2013) for safety violations - an abandoned pharmaceutical factory turned into a co-development project that within a few months come to bustle with social activity as architects, independent art initiatives (such as Nhà Sàn Collective and experimental music hub DomDom), fashion and design agencies and bars (such as Tadioto) gaining national notoriety. It re-opens as Hanoi Creative City in 2015.

The Multimedia sub-department (directed by Đỗ Kỳ Huy, Phan Lê Chung and Trương Thiện) is officially introduced as part of the Painting department at Hue University of Art, offering a range of programs by Umeå Academy of Fine Arts (Sweden), Indiana University (USA), and the University of New South Wales (Australia). The program focuses on installation, video art, and photography, with its first graduate class in 2016. In Vietnam, Hue University of Art is the first and only educational institution to date to reach such achievement - a bright spot worth celebrating in the local contemporary art scene.
(See: Phan Lê Chung. ‘Người trẻ với nghệ thuật đương đại’.


June: The Party changes its policies from limitation of simply commercialized trends in art and culture to commercialize it by developing a cultural industry (Resolution Nr. 33 NQ/TW of the 9th National Congress of the 11th Central Committee on June 9th 2014).

Trần Lương receives a ‘Prince Claus Laureate Award’ from the Prince Claus Foundation, for his ‘....moving artworks that… emphasise human resilience and empower the individual through personal action and self-reflection; for his dedicated energy in developing spaces, initiatives, networks and communities for performance and video arts in Vietnam and regionally; for supporting alternative visions in a context of… conformity; and for his commitment to… international dialogue, community enrichment and nurturing younger generations.’

‘The Quiet Moment’ (1938) by Lê Phổ sold for US$378,300 at the Christie's ‘Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art’ auction on November 22, while Nguyễn Phan Chánh's ‘The Betel Nut Seller’ (1931) sold for more than US$409,000.

‘Disrupted Choreographies’, co-curated by Zoe Butt  and Jean-Marc Prevost (Director, Carre d’Art) takes place at Carre d’Art (Nimes, France); featuring Lêna Bùi, Tiffany Chung, Đinh Q Lê, Jun Nguyễn-Hatsushiba, Nguyễn Huy An, Nguyễn Thái Tuấn, Nguyễn Trinh Thi and The Propeller Group.

The ‘Cultural Development and Exchange Fund’ (‘CDEF’) of the Danish Embassy hosts the ‘Talent Prize in Photography’. Winner Mai Thành Chung.

Cuci Fine Art is established by Võ Quỳnh Hoa with artist Nguyễn Hồng Phương on Hai Ba Trung street, another addition to the self-run gallery scene in Hanoi, with a focus on presenting unknown artists to the public. Currently residing in Thach Cau, Long Bien District, providing studio space for artists to experiment and work.

Heritage Space is launched in a space of 1,000m2 on the ground floor of Dolphin Plaza – a residential building in My Dinh area of Hanoi by Ms Nguyễn Hồng Minh (owner of Dolphin Plaza and an art collector). Currently directed by Nguyễn Anh Tuấn. Heritage Space is best known for the annual project ‘Month of Art Practice’, initiated by artist Trần Trọng Vũ, aiming to create space for composing, testing and practicing new artistic ideas, upon cooperation and interaction between international and Vietnamese artists. Heritage Space moves to its new location on Tho Nhuom street in 2020.

‘ART for YOU’, co-initiated by Manzi Art Space and Work Room Four (Hanoi), opens as one of the country’s first affordable art fairs, alongside ‘Hanoi Art Market’ (managed by Cuci Fine Art, Hanoi) and ‘Tết Art’ (originally co-founded by artist Trịnh Minh Tiến and Đoàn Phương Liên, Hanoi). In 2017, ‘ART for YOU’ opens its 6th edition in Ho Chi Minh City; and 7th edition in Hanoi.

Nhà Sàn Collective launches the 3rd edition of ‘Skylines With Flying People’, an interdisciplinary art project showcasing the diversity of artistic practices in contemporary Vietnam. The project was initiated, and first staged, in 2010 (London); its 2nd edition took place in 2014 (Hanoi). Its name references a poem written in 1988 (in the early years after Đổi Mới) by avant-garde poet Trần Dần about a place with no room for imagination. Central to the project is an attempt to foster connections and collaborations between contemporary art and other disciplines, among artists, experts, researchers and scholars from different branches of social and human sciences.


Trần Lương curates ‘Miền Méo Miệng: Contemporary Art from Vietnam’ at the Bildmuseet in Sweden, featuring artists: Bàng Nhất Linh, Nguyễn Huy An, Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Nguyễn Phương Linh, Nguyễn Thế Sơn, Nguyễn Trần Nam, Nguyễn Trinh Thi, ƯuĐàm Trần Nguyễn, Phạm Trần Việt Nam, Trần Thị Kim Ngọc, Trần Tuấn, Triệu Minh Hải, Trương Công Tùng, and Vũ Hà Ninh.

September: Hanoi Creative City (the successor of Zone 9) opens with craft shops, fashion boutiques, bookstores, cafes, restaurants, entertainment centers and art spaces (‘Nhà Sàn Collective' is currently residing here) spanning over a 20-storeyed building and a 1,000 square meter open space for public events such as flea markets, dance performances, sports activities and live music concerts.

3A Station (Alternative Art Area) is established on Ton Duc Thang (District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) with around 2,000 square meters and 3 formerly abandoned warehouses built in the 19th century turned into art and design studios, coffee shops and fashion boutiques, and with a focus supporting the the growing local graffiti art scene. 3A Station closes in 2017.

Ten years in the making, the National Gallery of Singapore opens in Singapore. With the largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern art, it is promoted as a global hub for dialog on the history of art in this region with a curatorial department employing dedicated staff to the aesthetic history of Vietnam.


April: The Factory Contemporary Art Centre is founded by Vietnamese artist Ti-A in Ho Chi Minh City, the first purpose built space for contemporary art in the country.

September: ‘Open Doors: 30 Years of Fine Art after Doi Moi (1986-2016)’ exhibition takes place at Vietnam Fine Art Museum (Hanoi), organized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, featuring 50 artists from across the country, many of whom previously are not recognized by the Vietnamese government.

MoT+++ is founded upon what was previously known as Dia Projects. As an artist-run space, it expands out from its gallery site to include multiple residency locations, hosting an ever-growing series of exhibitions, performances, presentations, workshops, sound events and residencies from international and locally-based artists. MoT+++ takes a fluid and responsive approach to programming that prioritises artists, and collaborates with artists to help them push the boundaries of their practice.

Salon Saigon, a private art space, is founded in Ho Chi Minh City by collector/entrepreneur John Tuệ Nguyễn, and directed by artist Sandrine Llouquet, presenting contemporary creation and Vietnamese culture through art exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programs.

Lạc Việt, Lý Thị and Chọn auction houses make their first moves in the local auction market of Vietnam, focusing on Vietnamese modern art. There are many dubious claims regarding their professional verification of authentic works of art.


‘Family Life’ by Lê Phổ (born 1907) was sold for US$1,172,080 at an auction held by the prestigious fine art auction house Sotheby's, smashing the previous record for a Vietnamese artwork of US$844,000 set by another work by Lê Phổ in 2014. However, Ngô Kim Khôi, a Paris-based art appraiser, warned that Vietnamese artists will only get the credit they deserve if counterfeits are kept off the market. In 2016, for example, a painting supposedly by Bùi Xuân Phái sold for US$102,000 during a charity event in Saigon. The artwork was only discovered to be a fake after it had been sold. "The true value of Vietnamese art will only be recognized if collectors, appraisers and those involved join hands in eradicating fakes.”

‘Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art (VCCA)’ opens in Hanoi as the country’s largest space for art, occupying nearly 4,000m2 in the underground quarters of trade center and apartment compound Vincom Megamall.


Hanoi Doclab moves from their space at the Goethe Institut Hanoi into a new ‘home’ on Thuy Khue street, West Lake.

British Council launches ‘Film and Music Laboratory’ (FAMLAB), a project under the framework of ‘Heritage of Future Past’ to provide opportunities for creative communities across Vietnam to contribute to, and benefit from, the safeguarding and reinvigoration of their cultural heritage. Activities include research, documentation, conservation, training and capacity building, experimentation and innovation, advocacy, policy and community dialogues, and support of the re-imagination and revitalisation of cultural heritage elements via contemporary practices.

Nguyễn Art Foundation, Sàn Art and Mot+++ collaborate to establish A. Farm - a hub for artists, cultural workers, events and exhibitions. Located in a converted factory at the edge of Ho Chi Minh City,  A. Farm provides long and short-term residencies and public programs conjuring ideas and ideals of community.

Á Space, a non-profit experimental art space, is co-founded by Tuấn Mami, Lê Dụng Hiệp and Rory Gill in May, Hanoi with an aim to support and develop artistic practices of young and emerging Vietnamese artists across all media and disciplines.

Sponsored by CDEF (Cultural Development and Exchange Fund) from the Embassy of Denmark in Vietnam and the British Council, Then Café and Làng Art Dorm (Hue) launch ‘DASH Project’ (2018). Including a creative space with facilities to support production, and a residency program, the ‘DASH Project’ invite 5 professional artists from East Asia and 10 emerging Vietnamese artists to Hue to stay at Lang Art Dorm, research the local social context and create a work with the participation of the local community (which is displayed in a group exhibition at Then Café). This project wishes to connect artistic practices with social issues and encourage exchange among artists across Asia.

Phan Thảo Nguyên wins the Grand Prize at the ‘APB Foundation Signature Art Prize 2018’ (Singapore) for her work ‘Poetic Amnesia’. Vietnamese artist collective The Propeller Group with the work ‘AK-47 vs. M16’ is also among the 15 finalists.

National symposium ‘The role of cultural and creative hubs in the creative economy of Vietnam’, co-organized by British Council and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, takes place in November, Hanoi, introducing the network of cultural and creative hubs in Vietnam, inviting discourse around developing industries in Vietnam in the context of the 4th industrial revolution.  

‘No War No Vietnam’, a multimedia exhibition, curated by Veronika Radulovic, Veronika Witte, Đỗ Tường Linh, opens at Galerie Nord Kunstverein in Berlin, presenting artistic anti-war positions of the late 1960s in Germany, such as photomontages, videos, paintings, photographs and original documents, as well as current contemporary art from Vietnam.

Nhà Sàn celebrates their 20th anniversary of Nhà Sàn. Despite losing their space at Hanoi Creative City, they continue doing publications, exhibition series and educational programs.

Sàn Art re-opens in December at a new gallery location in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City.

Chaosdowntown closes its physical space in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi and Ly Hoàng Ly participate in the 9th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia.

DomDom organizes its 3rd edition of ‘Hanoi New Music Festival’ in December with a focus on contemporary and experimental music in Southeast Asia with various programs including symposium, concerts and performances.


Commissioned by the Hanoi People’s Committee (as gift to the National Assembly), curated by artist Nguyễn Thế Sơn and with the participation of 15 artists, 22 artworks (painting, photography and installation), ‘The Art Project in the basement of the National Assembly’ takes over an area of 500 square meter in the basement of the National Assembly Building (Hanoi). This project sees artists attempt to create dialogues with, and reflect on, the diverse cultural heritage of Vietnam.  

Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn and Phan Thảo Nguyên participate in Sharjah Biennial 14 (co-curated by Zoe Butt, Artistic Director, The Factory).

Hanoi Doclab closes its space on Thuy Khue street and temporarily terminates all their activities.

VCCA kickstarts their program ‘Seeding talented emerging artists’, aiming at seeking and nurturing emerging artists in Vietnam and supporting them in their professional career.

Founded by young artist Hà Thuý Hằng under the guidance of musician Nguyễn Xuân Sơn (Sơn X), ‘The Future of Tradition’ (Hanoi) is a multi-component project originated from a proposition ‘Traditions do not stand still’. The project is divided into two parts: a series of intensive discussions with professionals who practice different traditional art forms and contemporary artists who incorporate traditional materials into their own works; and an Open Studio in which participating artists showcase their works-in-progress developed in response to the project.

A sông, the first group that works on arts and culture in Đà Nẵng, opens their space on Hoang Dieu street, Danang. A sông mainly focuses on contemporary art as well as socio-cultural topics concerning the history and identity of Quang Nam - Danang, seeking to expand connections within the community of South Central Vietnam. One of the co-founders of A sông is artist Xuân Hạ (also a co-founder of Chaosdowntown).

Artist Tiffany Chung undertakes first major museum solo in the US with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, titled ‘Tiffany Chung - Vietnam, Past is Prologue’ (March 15 - September 2, 2019); held in conjunction with ‘Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War 1965-1975)’ at the same museum. Tiffany’s show documents accounts that have largely been left out of official histories of the period and begins to tell an alternative story of the war’s ideology and effects; while ‘Artists Respond…’ is the most comprehensive exhibition to examine the contemporary impact of the Vietnam War on American art.

Artist and filmmaker, Nguyễn Trinh Thi, undertakes first major museum solo show in the US, titled ‘Fifth Cinema’ at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (September 29, 2019 - March 1, 2020)

Fine Art Department of Hue University closes due to insufficient enrolment. Lecturers are absorbed into other Applied Arts departments.

Lebadang Memory Space, which exhibits various artworks and documents of the personal life of artist Lê Bá Đảng, opened in April 2019 at Kim Son hamlet, Thuy Bbng commune, Huong Thuy town, Thua Thien Hue province.

Fashion designer Nguyễn Công Trí organizes his own exhibition ‘Cục Im Lặng’, showcasing key collections with artistic response by ten contemporary Vietnamese creatives, curated by Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần. This is the first large-scale spectacle exhibition of fashion in Vietnam (December 27-29, 2019), taking place in Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (District 7), with commissioned work by Ngô Đình Bảo Châu, Trương Công Tùng,  Lu Yang, Truc Anh, Ngô Thanh Phương, Alexander Tu, Hứa Như Xuân, Bảo Nguyễn, VUUV and Crazy Monkey, crossing visual art, film and performance.


The artist-in-residency program A. Farm (collaboratively initiated and driven by Sàn Art, MoT+++ and the Nguyen Art Foundation) closes due to lack of funding, loss of space and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artist Thảo Nguyên Phan undertakes first major museum solo show in Europe, titled ‘Monsoon Melody’ at WEILS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (February 1 - April 1, 2020).

March 17 - May 1: The Factory is closed upon order of the Vietnamese government (along with all other non-essential business across the country) as a COVID-19 preventative measure. All staff are placed on leave without pay. Organizational budget is consequently reduced (including salaries), with reduction of exhibition rotations from 4 to 3 per year. No project is cancelled, all are given re-assessed deadline delays.

MoT+++ opens their new space in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City.

Á Space continues their third year of ‘Solo Marathon’, a series of residency and open-studio that will last a month for 6 young artists.

‘Nổ Cái Bùm’, a Contemporary Art Week in Hue co-organized by Nest Studio, Mơ Đơ and Symbioses, takes place from July 4 to 9 at five different locations in Hue: Nest Studio, Hue Museum of Fine Arts, Năm Mùa Gallery, Then Cafe, and Mơ Đơ Bar.  

Măng Ta, a journal about Vietnamese art and culture initiated by Linh Lê and Rory Gill, releases its first issue in November 2021 with the contribution of various emerging writers.

Nhà Sàn Collective's project ‘Skylines With Flying People 4’, curated by The Appendix Group, is on view from November 2020 till the end of January 2021 at KingKho Mini Storage (Van Phuc, Hanoi).

Previously operating under the name of ‘Art In The Forest’ project, the Flamingo Contemporary Art Museum, the first contemporary art museum in Vietnam, is officially open to the public starting from the end of December 2020.


Mơ Art Space opens their exhibition space at the basement of Apricot Hotel (Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) with a group exhibition titled ‘Dreaming about Landscapes’, curated by Đỗ Tường Linh, in January 2021.

© Art Museum of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts