Our first exposure to the Hanoi Artist Pham Luc was purely happenstance. We were on a city tour of Hanoi and prior to arriving in the city, we had bought a simple tourist piece of lacquer art. The guide was explaining the Old Quarter tradition of grouping different vendors of similar products on a single street so buyers would know where to go when they wanted that product. We told him we were interested in seeing some lacquer ware and asked if there was a street for that. He suggested he knew a place we should visit.
The guide called ahead to make sure the artist was there and then took us to the home/studio of Pham Luc. As we entered the downstairs of the property, we found a room with little or no furniture but piled high with wooden boards covered with paint, gold leaf, egg shell and lacquer. To say we were blown away by the art and the kindness of this man is an understatement.
After we looked around this room, we were taken upstairs into his studio where there was even more art… everywhere; in stacks on the floor, in piles leaning against the walls, under the daybed, just everywhere. We were really unprepared for what we were seeing. It felt like we were in the presence of a true artist. He served us tea and offered to make a charcoal drawing for free. He had just closed a showing at a large Hanoi gallery and he gave us a copy of the catalogue from the show.
We bought a few small pieces that day but couldn’t stop thinking about what we had seen that day. When we returned home, we would look through the catalogue and lament that we hadn’t bought more. There were 3 large pieces in particular that we had loved so we wrote to the artist and inquired if any of those were still available and asked for a quote on shipping. To make a long story short, we ended up buying one of those large pieces and to this day, it is one of our most prized possessions.
Fast forward to our planning for our 2012 trip that would include Vietnam. We wanted to go back for more.
We had a guide with us to act as an interpreter and he translated to us that Pham Luc had prospered since our last visit. He was being discovered by a larger audience and Christie’s is soon going to be adding Pham Luc’s work to an auction web site.
We had brought along a photo of the large piece we had bought from him after our first trip and he appreciated seeing how we had it displayed. We noticed in his studio that while he was still working with the lacquer ware style that we loved, he was actually doing more traditional oil on canvas than we had seen in our previous trip. We went digging through the stacks and found quite a few that we really liked and noticed that most (but not all) of our favorites had actually been produced in the early 1980’s. After we had picked out a few pieces that we wanted to buy, he invited us to stay for lunch, which we declined and then offered to paint our portraits and give them to us as a gift, which we accepted! Fortunately for us, he also included a self portrait.
Click this link to see a video of part of that.
It took about 8-weeks for the shipment to arrive but eventually we did receive the art and as this is being written, we are trying to figure out where it is all going to be displayed.
Click here to reach the web site for the artist Pham Luc.