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Visual Arts


Tuan Hiep

I met Tuan's wife, Chuong, while I was trying to get some shoes repaired. She was the translator. I promised to come and see her shop later. Then I forgot. Fortunately, I stumpled accross it one day on my quest for the quintessential Hoi An artist. This was no easy task. There are many of them and choosing the right one seemed to be getting more random.

Then I stumpled into the Art Gallery Tuan Hiep Artist where Chuong recognized me. She was happy to see me but a llittle frightened of their proprietary images. I swore I would not show them around town. She was relieved and let me take some pictures.

This is a typical Hoi An painting. However, Tuan's expanded landscape and vibrant colors (this scan does not do it justice) are exceptional, as is his skill.

Tuan's boat series is subllimely peaceful. Here his work begins to emerge from the typical art of Hoi An. While maintaining the simple village subject matter, he expands into a surreal sunset, diverging from the prevelent content of his peers.

And with the following pictures he takes the simple style of Hoi An but uses completely new subject matter and style.

These simple pieces are actually really well done with fantastic color and rich texture that my lousey scans have not captured. (in fact you can see a reflection in the glass on this piece!)

And finally, his wife's most treasured piece, which has an interesting side story...

In this piece you can kind of see the texture. It was way more moving than you can imagine. Anyway, Chuong was very concerned about other artists seeing this piece....

Further down the street I found pieces similar to the cat picture, above, at a couple other places. I think the signature was different. I don't exactly remember. But I do remember that I began to wonder...

Given the masterpiece simulation situation in Saigon, it seemed likely that all the Hoi An artists must copy blatently off each other. And since Chuong was so worried that others might copy Tuan's work, then was he not an originator of new ideas? I think so.

And that makes me excited. Because, how does one become famous for original work in Hoi An when with everyone copying you? Because one must be consistantly creative to keep ahead of the masses. And that means Tuan will continually need to stay "ahead of the game". Well, I can't wait to see what Tuan comes up with next.

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