Painter demands apology from peer for signing on replicas of his works

By Hieu Nhan   November 8, 2022 | 06:06 pm PT
Artist Le The Anh has accused his peer Pham Hong Minh of putting his signature on replicas of the former’s paintings and demanded a public apology.

The Anh said a few days ago, one of his students told him that Pham Hong Minh, who has achieved fame for doing live paintings, had a copy of his painting called "Li Xi Nhe" (Lucky Money) but with the latter’s signature on it.

Later, The Anh found out that the same thing had been done to another one of his paintings, "Co Gai Dao Do" (Red Yao Girl).

Anh said making copies of paintings was normal practice in the country, but Minh had no right to put his own signature on it

He contacted Minh but received no response, so he put the story out on his Facebook and attracted the attention of many people. Minh then contacted The Anh and said that he had purchased the replicas at a shop in Hanoi and signed them because he "liked them."

The original Li Xi Nhe painting (L) and its replica. Photo courtesy of Le The Anh

The original "Li Xi Nhe" painting (L) and its replica. Photo courtesy of Le The Anh

"I have never seen anyone sign a painting after buying it. The issue is not buying or not buying the painting, the main point is that if you signed a painting, you claim to be its author.

"I cannot accept that. My works have been copyrighted, displayed and sold to collectors."

The Anh said his original oil painting "Li Xi Nhe" was completed in 2016 and displayed at an exhibition in 2017, while "Co Gai Dao Do was painted in 2013. Both paintings have copyright certificates and have been sold to collectors.

Minh said he hadn’t copied the paintings because he had bought them. Once purchased, the paintings belonged to him. Therefore, it was his personal right to write and draw on it or resell it to someone else.

"Saying that I copied his paintings is slander. I have texted and asked to meet him but he hasn’t agreed," Minh said.

The Anh has requested Minh to apologize publicly in the press and destroy the two falsely signed replicas, failing which he will take legal action.

Artist Tran Lam Binh, who has seven art exhibitions under his belt, said he disagreed with a person copying another artist’s work and signing his name on it. He said his own works were copied many times by others without permission, but the copiers didn’t put their own signatures so them, so he had chosen not to make a big deal of it.

Binh said the reproduction of paintings was allowed by intellectual property law under two conditions. Firstly, the one who copied the painting had to ask the author for permission.

Secondly, a painting can be reproduced without permission if it was over 50 years old and its copyright duration had expired.

However, no one had a right to put their signature on a painting if they were not its author.

The original Co Gai Dao Do (L) and its replica. Photo courtesy of Le The Anh

The original "Co Gai Dao Do" (L) and its replica. Photo courtesy of Le The Anh

Art expert Ngo Kim Khoi said The Anh should take legal action to protect his rights and interests. Authorities should also penalize anyone who copies paintings without asking their authors for permission.

"The act of signing on a replica of a painting and thinking that the owner can sign or edit anything on it after purchasing it is wrong. Pham Hong Minh should know better, because he has also studied art and has a brand related to art," Khoi said.

Painter Le The Anh, 44, is currently a lecturer at the Hanoi University of Theater and Performing Arts. He’s also a member of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association. He has hosted many individual art exhibitions and won several domestic awards.

Pham Hong Minh, 31, is a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the HCMC University of Architecture of HCMC. He achieved viral fame in 2013 with his performances of painting with glitter and fire in Vietnam’s Got Talent reality show.

In 2017, he was recognized as the first live painting artist in Vietnam. He has been developing a career in performing live paintings of various styles and genres.

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