75-year-old artist's murals bring new life to Saigon alleys

By Quynh Tran   January 16, 2017 | 02:25 am PT
The artist could not pursue his dream to take care of his family. But recently he has found his renewed passion for street art.

These colorful murals have transformed small alleys in Ho Chi Minh City.


When the 75-year-old Nguyen Van Minh was young, he loved painting. But the University of Fine Arts graduate was later forced to give up on his passion and became a teacher to take care of his family with a stable source of income.


That all changed when he retired. “Two years ago, while walking past the brick walls near my home, I found them dull. So I came up with the idea of painting these colorful murals. My neighbors were very excited. Since then I’ve just gone with the flow,” said Minh.


As the Lunar New Year is coming, the working schedule of the old artist becomes hectic. Every day he gets on his old bicycle with a bag full of brushes and works his magic.


“The idea has been been supported by district officials, local people to my family members,” he said.


“I mostly pay for these projects myself. Sometimes there are people who like my paintings and they are willing to chip in some money,” he said.


One of his PSA messages that reminds local residents to drive safely.


A poem.


The artist often comes back to visit his murals and gives them some retouch. This is his favorite, he said, which costs VND400,000 ($18).


Local people in District 4 are so inspired by his street art. It takes Minh between one to three days to finish a mural. “I have so far created 40 in many alleys. My health is still perfectly good. And I will keep on painting until I can't,” Minh said.


This small eatery's owner loves what Minh has painted on the wall. “This wall painting has livened up the place, drawing more customers,” Cao Vinh Co said.

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