Today marks the occasion of the 99th birthday of Bui Xuan Phai, who is seen by many as the most important Vietnamese painter of the 20th century. I want to share my clients’ recent visit to the artist’s son, artist Bui Thanh Phuong, in honor of his memory.


Bui Xuan Phai (September 1, 1920 – June 24, 1988), was born in Hanoi and spent his entire life in a hidden house in the alley of 87 Thuoc Bac street, where his son lives today. Phai worked intensively as a freelance artist and left behind an extensively artistic legacy, most of which can still be seen at his house. Today, he is best known of all Vietnamese modern painters, and is admired for both his art and moral character.


Welcomed us at a nearby coffee shop, then Phuong took us home where we saw all of his father’s works on the walls. Phuong said, in the early life, his father epitomized for the Vietnamese the lone artist suffering for his art. He lost his teaching position at the Hanoi College of Fine Arts in 1957 for supporting the Nhan Van affair, a movement for cultural and political freedom and wasn’t allowed to show his work in public until his solo exhibition in 1984.


Eight years after his death, in 1996, Phai was posthumously awarded with a Ho Chi Minh prize. When still alive, he painted the actors, nude, and musicians of Vietnamese opera, but he is most famous for the paintings of streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.





We offer a wide range of exclusive experiences in Hanoi, including art tour led by an art curator or an active artist, in order to bring our travelers a special tailor made experience. Contact us for a special visit to artist Bui Xuan Phai and talk to his son about his father's art works.



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