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

By Quynh Tran   January 16, 2017 | 05:25 pm GMT+7

The artist could not pursue his dream to take care of his family. But recently he has found his renewed passion for street art.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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“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.

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

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A poem.

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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).

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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.

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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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