Art & Culture
Sotheby’s Presents Its First Exhibition in Vietnam Timeless Souls: Beyond the Voyage – Hồn Xưa Bến Lạ This Summer

This exhibition will showcase over 50 works by Le Thi Luu, Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu and Vu Cao Dam, Modern Masters from the Early Generation of École des Beaux-Arts de l'Indochine (EBAI) until 14 July at Park Hyatt Saigon

Timeless Souls: beyond the Voyage – Hồn Xưa Bến Lạ is Sothebys first ever exhibition in Vietnam. Not only does this mark the first exhibition in Vietnam held by an arts and cultural frontier, the public event also manifests as one of the largest Indochine Art exhibitions ever staged in the country. Until 14 July at Park Hyatt Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, the non-selling exhibition features over 50 works by Le Thi Luu, Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu and Vu Cao Dam, the four renowned early generation graduates from the École des Beaux- Arts de l'Indochine (EBAI) who migrated to France in early 20th century.

Le Pho, Jeune femme à l’éventail (Woman with Fan) Ink and Gouache on silk, circa 1940s, 37x30cm

With Sotheby’s mission to foster a cultural dialogue between artists and the local community, Sotheby’s Modern Art specialists selected Ace Lê, an independent researcher and writer on Vietnamese art to co-curate this public exhibition as a platform for all to learn more about the local arts and culture through the eyes of some of the world’s most talented artists in the region. 

Vu Cao Dam - Les Musiciennes

“This is a milestone for the Vietnamese art community across all levels.” Ace comments. “I am honoured to be recognised by Sotheby’s, a global market leader who has such passion and respect for our local arts and cultural heritage, and keen to add local insights to such a significant exhibition.”

Mai Trung Thu - The Two Beauties
Le Thi Luu, Fillette aux nattes avec son panier de fleurs (Girlwith mats and her basket of flowers) Gouache and ink on silk, circa 1960s – 1970s, 33x20cm

These works of the exhibition illustrate the years of these artists living abroad, a narrative that reflects how the maestros channelled their longing for home with familiar subject matters constructed from intricate threads of memories of Vietnam – plants and landscapes, families and rituals, culture and architecture, values and philosophy, while weaving new perspectives from their journey in France. Says Nathan Drahi, managing director of Sotheby's Asia, “We are proud to stage Sotheby’s very first exhibition in Vietnam, in the vibrant town of Ho Chi Minh City, where we hope to reconnect the public with its rich cultural heritage through these exceptional and local works of art.”

Mai Trung Thu, Le petit pêcheur du lac(Child Fishing by The Lake) Ink and gouache on silk, circa 1974, 39x55cm
Vũ Cao Đàm - Hai nàng Kiều - Without Frame

Jasmine Prasetio, managing director of Sotheby’s Southeast Asia further commented, “Sotheby’s has been cultivating the Southeast Asian art market for over two decades and we are proud to have brought some of the most remarkable works by regional artists onto the international platform. We recognize the importance of Vietnam as a cultural wellspring and its rapidly growing collector base with a passion for collecting and a thirst for knowledge. It is Sotheby’s privilege to share our expertise, information and experience, with new and established collectors, and it is our hope to contribute to this educational endeavour by holding this non-selling exhibition.” 

Vu Cao Dam, Le Retour (The Return) Oil on canvas, 1964 , 92.5 by 73.5cm
Le Pho, Les Pavots Oil on canvas, circa 1970s, 91.5cmx65cm
Le Pho - Maternite (Maternity)

Among the many rapidly growing economies in the region, there is a burgeoning demand and interest in Vietnamese art globally. Having recently set a new artist record for Le Pho at the Hong Kong Spring Sales, Sotheby’s now holds the top three auction prices for any Vietnamese artworks – this exhibition will further demonstrate Sotheby’s market leadership and determination to connect global collectors in the region. Continuing Sotheby’s mission to foster a cross-cultural dialogue around the world, more events will follow in Asia Pacific this summer.

Words: Emily Leung & Nikey Cheng
Photos: Courtesy of Sotheby's
Published on July 12, 2022