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  • Kerry Newsome

Art in Vietnam - as a traveler to Vietnam what do you know about it?

What do you know about art in Vietnam? It’s certainly beautiful and you’ll find art everywhere. However, it can be difficult to know what you are actually looking at when it comes to Vietnamese art.

Often, as tourists, we try to cram as much as possible into a stay in Vietnam making it so that the artist’s or craftsman's true technique and storytelling is completely lost on us.

Art and craft take many forms in Vietnam, as in lacquerware, paintings, silk, lanterns, pottery, fashion, and homewares. You will learn in this episode of What About Vietnam, that there is a difference between an “Artist” and a Craftsman, who may produce the same style or product many times, yet it takes true skill to do this. We discuss the differences. And then of course how to tell which art is real or fake? Believe it, or not. Not everything is a copy or fake!

With the advantage of talented artist, Bridget March, we are going to take a look back about 100 years and really talk about how Vietnam has developed in the art world. You’ll discover how artists were once censored by culture police and that the chronological order of art in Vietnam paints a picture of the country's storied history. Perhaps not a complete picture thanks to symbolism, but

we discuss how each element of landscapes

holds interesting symbolic meaning.

For example, representational mountains are about reaching to heaven. Rivers are about pathways in your life. And you will always see that the people within these landscapes are tiny, and that's because it represents man's small place in the universe. These paintings are very different from life and quite magical in that a Vietnamese person can look at this art and meditate over these symbolic meanings, which differs greatly from Western art.

These small nuances are often missed by Westerners when they take in Vietnamese art, so the next time you’ve got the opportunity make sure to truly indulge and take a minute to appreciate these subtle reflective symbolic meanings.

Name - Rice Harvest - Artist - Dien Viet -

On this episode of the What About Vietnam podcast we also discuss how the art of black ink calligraphy is meant to be meditative, as well. When it comes to this kind of art it's not necessary that you think it's beautiful, but instead you meditate on the words or the meanings. These are meant to be daily meditations, reminding you to be good and thoughtful.

Of course, one of the most interesting and classic forms of Vietnamese art is the lantern. The craft of making lanterns can be found throughout Asia, but there is a story that goes with them in Vietnam. We delve into the interesting story on the podcast and ongoing lantern trends. Yes, there are trends when it comes to lanterns and in Central Vietnam the trend is currently moving towards beautifully patterned lanterns that feature hand painting.

Find out where to view these lanterns and so much more!

I’d like to thank my guest on this episode of What About Vietnam, brilliant storyteller, and an artist herself of considerable note, Bridget March. She has published 3 books about Hoi An, Sapa and Saigon and has had 7 solo exhibitions of her paintings and drawings in Vietnam galleries and at International hotels.

She also has her own delightful gallery, March Gallery Hoi AnSee our special offer coming soon. For the list of Bridget March’s favorite galleries, check out her blog post listing them here. Or simply view the show transcript for links.

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