Secluded in a tiny alleyway deep in Go Vap District is an eclectic studio and workshop belonging to an eccentric artist by the name of Nguyen Van Binh. Inspired (or perhaps obsessed) by Renaissance art, Binh has hand-painted images of the style on everything from masquerade masks, room signs, cups and pots, candles, albums, guitars, paper holders to traditional paintings, ceramic vases, and miniature houses.
Twenty plus collections envelop every last inch of floor, ceiling, tables, arms of chairs, walls and windows, strewing all the way to the back of his shop and threatening to take over other rooms in his house. He’s tried his hands on everything he could get away with, and then some.
“There was an HTV channel crew here a while ago. They told me that my collection overwhelmed them. They just didn’t know which one they should focus on,” enthuses Binh.
At 40+ years old, he says the hardest part is balancing the art aspect of his work and the commercial factor to allow him the funds needed to keep his studio going.
Oi’s Pick: Miniature Houses (VND 2 million and above)
The crown jewel of Binh’s collection and his most favorite work thus far, each of these miniature, handcrafted and hand painted houses take at the very least a full month of non-stop work to finish. No two houses are the same and they are best kept together as part of a full collection.
Qua Tang Ve Tay (Hand Painted Gifts )
Binh maintains a booth at the monthly Saigon Flea Market. However, because of limited space, the little he brings each time mainly comprises of commercial, easy to sell small items. For anyone looking for a one-of-a-kind, head to his studio at 97/5 Ly Thuong Kiet, Ward 4, Go Vap.