Street artists paint graffiti across Vietnam

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Phan Minh Tuan and Sébastien Szczyrk traveled across Vietnam, painting on walls, dykes and tables at street cafés the whole way.

The Vietnamese and French painters were conducting a graffiti project in November and December to show how a rebellious western urban art fits into the Vietnamese atmosphere, Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported.

Sautel Cago, as the French artist is also known, said graffiti is not welcomed by the official establishment in Vietnam.

He said it's not easy to find a good place to paint in Vietnam, except on abandoned houses in remote areas.

The two only painted with the approval of building owners but sometimes they had to stop midway and paint the walls white again at the order of local officials.

He said the difficulty is actually part of their inspiration as it means their project will be one of the first efforts to make people understand and accept the art of graffiti in Vietnam.

Indeed, the project received a lot of attention from artists everywhere they went. As they exchanged ideas and painted together, Tuan and Cago said their trip was a chance to use graffiti to connect contemporary artists across the country.

The two traveled by train, bus and motorbike from the northern highlands town of Sa Pa through Hai Phong, Hanoi, Hue, Da Lat, and Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta provinces Dong Thap and Ca Mau, painting what they felt about Vietnamese daily life along the way.

Some of the paintings only lasted several days due to weather conditions.

Locals were very interested in the project, according to Tuan.

"The places we painted were rather open about this new art, especially in Hue.

"Some locals asked us to come and paint on their walls."

Tuan described the art of graffiti as "a big community," saying that artists build connections with each other and the public during the process. He said graffiti connects art and real life because when a painting is finished, it's very much up to the public whether to embrace or reject it.

Graffiti was first practiced in Vietnam in the early 2000s as a personal pastime.

Tuan, 23, said he belongs to the second generation of the art in Vietnam. He said that he and around 30 other artists have chosen it as their professional career path.

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