Culture Culture

02/01/2022 - 07:14

Ups and downs of galleries in Hue

After a long time of being prevailing, galleries have gradually been closed for many objective and subjective reasons in recent years. While the deserted galleries have to pay a lot of fees, the online purchase market is "taking the spotlight".

Galleries are gradually deserted due to many objective and subjective factors (Photo taken before the outbreak of COVID-19)

Becoming deserted over time

Although the art market in Hue is not as busy and bustling as many art markets in Northern and Southern regions, it is considered to be moving, and partly catch up with the other ones. It can be proven by the establishment of many galleries in the 1990s. Besides the galleries opened by artists themselves in order to sell their own paintings, there are many others opened by art lovers, where they receive the paintings from artists, display and sell them.

According to artists in Hue, many galleries used to be opened, including the gallery of artist Le Quy Long, the gallery of artist Ngo Tam, the Sam gallery of artist Truong Thien, the Ta gallery of artist Phan Quang Tan, and the Art gallery Sonata of Ms. Ngoc Diep, etc.

Besides their own paintings, the artists also display many art works of their colleagues. As for some galleries opened by art lovers, the owners often receive paintings from various artists; anyone can send their paintings.

A corner of the gallery space has still existed in Hue so far

The owners of some galleries shared that the “hot-selling period” of the paintings in galleries was from the late 1990s to the middle of 2005. At that time, there was a large number of visitors coming to Hue, with quite high demand for art appreciation and buying paintings at the galleries.

“In those days, it was very popular to sell paintings for a living. Many galleries earned well and lived well. Thanks to the galleries, many artists could also earn money; thus, they had the excitement to draw. They sent their paintings to the gallery as many as they had. There would be the commission rate between artists and gallery owners depending on their agreement," shared artist V.T. who used to open gallery and send paintings to galleries.

However, when tracking the art market in recent years, artist T. said that for many subjective and objective reasons, some gallery owners had to return the rental space and close them down.

According to artist T., with the development of technology, many artists do not need to send their paintings to galleries, as they can sell their own paintings directly on forums and social network sites related to fine arts. Many painting buyers have also connected to the artists themselves, they can view and trade paintings online, or go to the artist’s place for a look.

“Even customers or collectors from other provinces, or abroad, they just need a "click" to view the paintings and make transactions immediately. Thus, the role of galleries is gradually faded,” explained artist T.

If the galleries are located on the land belonging to the artists, or the gallery owners, it is still "easy" to keep the galleries operating. Conversely, there are various fees if they have to rent land to open the galleries. As they are not able to deal with the fees, they have to close their galleries. For that reason, after a few years opening his gallery, Mr. T. decided to close it down, return the rental space, and come back home to draw.

Connection and promotion needed

According to some younger artists, the previous generations of artists used to send their paintings to galleries in Hue, even as far as Hoi An; recently, they have hardly done so. For well-known artists, the collectors get straight to their places. For the artists who have just begun to draw, they are connected mainly via channels on social networks. Therefore, they partly do not pay attention to sending their paintings to galleries.

“Especially in the context of the pandemic, international guests as well as guests from other provinces and cities, who cannot pay a visit, can also view and buy the paintings online. In my opinion, it is very convenient and also the reason for the galleries facing the difficulties,” said young artist L. L.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Thanh Binh, former Rector of College of Arts, Hue University said that in Hue, the number of galleries that really meet the standards were quite a few, with the exception of the gallery of artist Boi Tran (but it is more likely to be an exhibition venue or an art center).

According to Mr. Binh, there are many reasons, but the most important one is that Hue has not been a market for paintings yet, and there is still a long way to go to become a market. This is because there is not even the existence of an exhibition venue, nor an exhibition hall. Hue Museum of Fine Arts has been established, but there is no proper place to display. Hue’s artists are many and pretty numerous of them are good ones, but they have to choose their own ways, which are precarious with little support.

When being asked about whether the trend that the "online" gallery system (in which the paintings are bought and sold online) has grown rapidly in recent years is the reason affecting the quietness of the galleries, Mr. Binh said that whether it was online or offline, before and after, the paintings market in Hue was still dull. Thus, if there is an influence, it is only partially.

“In order to acquire a sustainable developing market, becoming a destination for art and painting lovers, there is a need of the synchronization in all aspects, from the museum system to the art galleries. In addition, there should be a connection to tourism resources and promotion to visitors. Besides, it is necessary to have regular exhibition activities, and one indispensable thing is the theme of Hue in creation and drawing," emphasized Mr. Binh.

Story and photos: NHAT MINH

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