Buying paintings in Hanoi: from copies to works of art

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Copying is rife across Vietnam, and art is no exception. Hanoi’s Old Quarter is littered with art shops selling life-size copies of a wide range of artists’ work: from Van Gogh to Da Vinci to Klimt.

These aren’t prints; they’re freshly-painted by talented copy artists whom you can often see tracing and painting away in the shops. They’re generally sold off the frame for ease of transport and cost anything from a few dollars up. We bought a classic Lichtenstein recently to brighten up our somewhat bland apartment and it certainly does that: it’s one metre by two metres of brightening up actually. It cost us $50 — after a bit of negotiating. Don’t tell me if you manage to buy it for less.

Road to City by Mai Anh

Of course,  copies of Old Masters aren’t your only option. Hanoi is home to some amazingly talented local artists. Ngan Pho Gallery on Hang Gai stocks original artwork by Vietnamese artists such as surrealist Dang Xuan Hoa and contemporary female artist, Mai Anh, whose works have been described as “dream like”.  Pieces retail in the thousands of dollars although cheaper pieces can be found at their other gallery on Trang Tien Street.

Maison des Arts, on Van Mieu near the Temple of Literature, is another top spot for quality art work. For the cheaper option try the shop at the Fine Arts Museum where prints are on sale.

Finally, if your preference lies with the more traditional style of painting, try the shops along Nguyen Thai Hoc — it’s the main road that runs along the north of the Temple of Literature and past the Museum of Fine Arts. Here you’ll find more locally frequented outlets full of gilt frames, Chinese lettering and detailed countryside scenes.

Road to the city image graciously supplied by Ngan Pho Gallery.