Graffiti and Street Art in Saigon, Vietnam

The Arts Censorship


Mantle Image Graffiti Saigon Vietnam
Graffiti in Saigon via Saigon - Graffiti on da Street



Vietnam isn't exactly a bastion of free expression. Freedom House declares the country "not free," Transparency International ranks the country 123/176 on its corruption index (tying it with Sierra Leone and Mozambique), and the Committee to Protect Journalists indicates the imprisonment of 232 journalists in 2012 reached an all-time high.


In a country where freedom of expression remains an idea, not a practice, street artists appear undeterred. Saigon's urban canvas is slowly emerging as a place where artists express feelings that in other outlets would be curtailed. The street art scene is young in Vietnam, but the preliminary art looks very promising.



Mantle Image Graffiti Saigon Vietnam
Graffiti in the Bến Nghé neighborhood of Saigon, via Saigon Graffiti




Most of the graffiti in Saigon features tags and throw ups of particular artists:



The Mantle Image Saigon Vietnam



The Mantle Image Saigon Vietnam



The Mantle Image Graffiti Saigon Vietnam



The Mantle Image Graffiti Saigon Vietnam
Four images above via Saigon - Graffiti on da Street



Outside artists visiting Vietnam provide inspiration for up and coming street artists. French street artist Julien Malland, a.k.a. Seth Globepainter, traveled to Vietnam in 2010. His murals appeared in Saigon.



The Mantle Julian Malland Graffiti Saigon Vietnam



Mantle Image Julien Malland Vietnam Saigon Graffiti



El Mac, a photorealist graffiti artist from Los Angeles, California, has visited the country a couple of times and left his mark. For the piece below, El Mac teamed up with Shamsia Hassani, perhaps Afghanistan's first female graffiti artist. Hassani added to the piece: " بعضی حرفها را باید دید ،بعضی حرفها گفتنی نیست." which translates to "Some Of The Things You See Are Not Worth Mentioning."



The Mantle El Mac Vietnam Saigon Graffiti



Here is a video of El Mac painting a mural outside of Sàn Art, an independent artist space in Saigon. It is based on a photo of Kosoom, the grandmother of El Mac's girlfriend.


Not all graffiti is art. These spray painted advertisements, which are ubiquitous in Saigon, are for concrete cutters.



Mantle Image saigon vietnam graffiti
Graffiti advertisements in Saigon - Photo by Shaun Randol



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Graffiti, Street Art, Vietnam