Artists demand compensation after Vietnam exhibition fiasco

By Hieu Nhan   January 15, 2021 | 02:47 pm GMT+7
Many artists including sculptors and painters are demanding compensation for works damaged and lost during the Vietnam Fine Arts Exhibition.

A month after the Vietnam Fine Arts Exhibition closed, many artists are still waiting for feedback from inspectors of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

They had petitioned the ministry’s Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition Department, which organized the exhibition, demanding an apology and compensation for losses suffered. But there has been no response from the department so far.

Sculptor Trieu Ngoc Thach, who had one artwork broken and another lost at the exhibition, is angry and frustrated.

"The organizers are irresponsible and it seems that they are trying to avoid the issues. If they do not respond in the next few days, I will send a letter to the ministry. In case they do not address it, I will sue them."

Thach said he met several times with the organizers, but they could not reach an agreement. Thach has asked for $5,000 in compensation and an apology letter.

Painter Pham Hung Anh, whose "Thoi Gian" (Time) was lost, has also not received any feedback after three meetings with the organizers.

Thoi Gian (Time) by Pham Hung Anh, which was lost in the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Pham Hung Anh.

"Thoi Gian" (Time) by Pham Hung Anh, which was lost in the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Pham Hung Anh.

"They said they would ask the police to investigate, but I have received no further response. And no police officer has contacted me even I am the victim," Anh said. He will write directly to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism next, he added.

His lost painting costs around $10,000 - 12,000, and Anh wants to have fair compensation with an apology letter.

Painters Ngo Ngoc Thanh and Than Trong Dung, whose paintings were scratched during the exhibition, have also asked for compensation. Thanh said a client had deposited $8,000 to acquire the painting, but refused to buy it on seeing the scratches.

Dung has asked for compensation of $15,000.

Tran Thi Thu Dong, deputy head of the Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition Department, said they have received nine complaint letters related to damaged and lost artworks.

"Two lost artworks of painter Pham Hung Anh and sculptor Trieu Ngoc Thach must be investigated by the police. In seven other cases, we are meeting with artists and discuss it with them," she said.

The Vietnam Fine Art Exhibition in Hanoi, December 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Khieu Minh.

The Vietnam Fine Arts Exhibition in Hanoi, December 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Khieu Minh.

Some artists have reached agreements with the organizers. Nguyen Quoc Huy, painter of Dia Linh Nhan Kiet" (Sacred Lands and Extraordinary People), said he had received an apology and compensation, but refused to reveal details. His painting had been previously valued at $50,000.

Painter Nguyen Phuc Loi also said his problem was addressed without revealing specifics, adding that the incident should be a lesson for the department and exhibition organizers in the future.

A total of 497 artworks from 483 domestic artists were showcased at the Vietnam Fine Art Exhibition in December 2020. The event is held every five years.

The latest one plunged into a scandal with many submitting artists having to run the gauntlet of vandals, unprofessional handling by organizers, and even thieves.

 
 
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