JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

US gallery owner upbeat about Vietnam’s art market

US gallery owner upbeat about Vietnam’s art market

Monday, January 06, 2014, 14:51 GMT+7

Craig Thomas, the American owner of Craig Thomas Gallery in Ho Chi Minh City, is optimistic about Vietnam’s art scene, although local artists still have a long way to go.

Thomas has celebrated several Tet holidays in HCMC. He particularly loves driving around the city during Tet, when it’s considerably less crowded and the atmosphere is celebratory.

His gallery, at 27i Tran Nhat Duat, District 1, has grown to be a popular art hub among expats in Vietnam and other Asian countries.

From well-paid lawyer to struggling gallery owner

In 1995, 28-year-old Thomas left Alabama to be a lawyer in Hanoi, but didn’t expect he would live there for more than a couple of years.

However, Thomas soon quit his job—despite his pay rate of US$300 an hour—to work part-time at Hanoi Studio, a local art gallery.

He never imagined that the part-time job would transform him into a professional in the local art market, which was then stagnant and amateurish.

He marked his professionalism in the field by founding Craig Thomas Gallery in 2009. Like his colleagues, several of whom have had to shut down their galleries in Hanoi and HCMC after many years in operation, Thomas has encountered tremendous difficulties running his gallery.

However, his efforts have paid off, and several of his well-organized art exhibits have been extremely successful.

Thomas said that Vietnamese and Viet Kieu currently make up some 25% of his clientele, a 500% increase from his first days in business and an auspicious sign that the local art market is growing.

Vietnamese clients have purchased a number of paintings displayed at Craig Thomas Gallery exhibits, particularly those that aren’t targeted at foreigners.

However, Vietnamese art purchase power still lags far behind that of other Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China.

“Vietnamese people didn’t get rich until 10 years ago, while other Southeast Asian countries did several decades ago. Though there are now many USD millionaires in Vietnam, the local art collection is yet to thrive. However, I remain hopeful. Though I now still struggle to run my gallery, I’ll stick to the job until I’m too old to do so,” the American shared.

Thomas favors classic art genres, particularly oil paintings, over contemporary work that involves installations or video art.

Unlike most galleries that typically display the work of established artists, Thomas’ gallery focuses on showcasing the work of young, emerging artists, aiming to nurture their talents and passion.

Thomas plans to stay in Vietnam for as long as possible.

“Alabama is serene and beautiful, but I can’t live there. My life, job, and friends—both expats and Vietnamese–are all here,” Thomas shared.

Craig Thomas, the American owner of Craig Thomas Gallery in Ho Chi Minh City, is optimistic about Vietnam’s art scene, although local artists still have a long way to go.

Thomas has celebrated several Tet holidays in HCMC. He particularly loves driving around the city during Tet, when it’s considerably less crowded and the atmosphere is celebratory.

His gallery, at 27i Tran Nhat Duat, District 1, has grown to be a popular art hub among expats in Vietnam and other Asian countries.

From well-paid lawyer to struggling gallery owner

In 1995, 28-year-old Thomas left Alabama to be a lawyer in Hanoi, but didn’t expect he would live there for more than a couple of years.

However, Thomas soon quit his job—despite his pay rate of US$300 an hour—to work part-time at Hanoi Studio, a local art gallery.

He never imagined that the part-time job would transform him into a professional in the local art market, which was then stagnant and amateurish.

He marked his professionalism in the field by founding Craig Thomas Gallery in 2009. Like his colleagues, several of whom have had to shut down their galleries in Hanoi and HCMC after many years in operation, Thomas has encountered tremendous difficulties running his gallery.

However, his efforts have paid off, and several of his well-organized art exhibits have been extremely successful.

Thomas said that Vietnamese and Viet Kieu currently make up some 25% of his clientele, a 500% increase from his first days in business and an auspicious sign that the local art market is growing.

Vietnamese clients have purchased a number of paintings displayed at Craig Thomas Gallery exhibits, particularly those that aren’t targeted at foreigners.

However, Vietnamese art purchase power still lags far behind that of other Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China.

“Vietnamese people didn’t get rich until 10 years ago, while other Southeast Asian countries did several decades ago. Though there are now many USD millionaires in Vietnam, the local art collection is yet to thrive. However, I remain hopeful. Though I now still struggle to run my gallery, I’ll stick to the job until I’m too old to do so,” the American shared.

Thomas favors classic art genres, particularly oil paintings, over contemporary work that involves installations or video art.

Unlike most galleries that typically display the work of established artists, Thomas’ gallery focuses on showcasing the work of young, emerging artists, aiming to nurture their talents and passion.

Thomas plans to stay in Vietnam for as long as possible.

“Alabama is serene and beautiful, but I can’t live there. My life, job, and friends—both expats and Vietnamese–are all here,” Thomas shared.

Tuoi Tre

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

‘Taste of Australia’ gala dinner held in Ho Chi Minh City after 2-year hiatus

Taste of Australia Gala Reception has returned to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Latest news