Meet Xeo Chu, the art prodigy representing Vietnam at Expo Dubai 2021
thamnguyen99 31-12-2021, 16:42

One of the youngest Vietnamese artists is making a splash on the world stage thanks to his paintings of northern Vietnam’s famous Mung Cang Chai terraced rice fields on display at Expo Dubai 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.

A just 14 years old, Xeo Chu is proving himself a worthy representative of Vietnam’s newest generation of artists owing to the popularity of his works on show at Expo Dubai 2021, which began on October 1 this year and will run until March 31, 2022.

An opening ceremony for the inauguration of Xeo Chu’s exhibition on Wednesday was attended by Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Ta Quang Dong, Ambassador of Vietnam to the United Arab Emirates Nguyen Manh Tuan, and Director General of the International Cooperation Department Nguyen Phuong Hoa.

To prepare for his Mu Cang Chai paintings, Xeo Chu spent time living in a farmer’s house, observing the local people's work, enjoying the fresh mountain air, and even harvesting rice himself. 

Using that experience, he created his own portraits of the stunning landscapes.

“It’s incredible that there is such a magnificent sight in my country," he said.  

"The wave of yellow [in the rice fields] when the harvest season comes is incredible.”

Xeo Chu (in white) speaks at the opening of his exhibition at Expo Dubai 2021 on December 29, 2021. Photo: Supplied

An experienced exhibitor

Expo Dubai 2021 is not Xeo Chu’s first international exhibition. In October of this year, he joined a handful of other artists in representing Vietnam at a 'Vietnamese Day' event in Switzerland.

Though he is just 14, Xeo Chu, whose real name is Pho Van An, has been painting for ten years.

During his decade-long career, he has hosted solo exhibitions in Vietnam, Singapore, and the United States.

His work 'Ha Long Bay in Cave' was on sale for US$150,000 at an event in New York in 2019. 

His oeuvre is most often compared to American artist Jackson Pollock's.

A supplied photo of 14-year-old Vietnamese art prodigy Xeo Chu and his works featuring the Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields from Yen Bai Province, Vietnam

Xeo Chu began painting when he was four years old. He started by joining his brothers in their art lessons, but their teacher, Nguyen Hai Anh, quickly saw his potential and started helping him hone his skills.

Before long, his family and friends realized how gifted he was and his mother began investing more and more into his passion for art.

Xeo Chu’s first paintings were of the things he saw in everyday life, such as flowers and dogs. 

When his parents would take him on vacation, he would snap photos of everything he saw and paint them the moment he got home, while the sights were still fresh in his mind.

His current style has now evolved to include an abstract mix of reality and his own creativity, creating a unique look at daily life and popular landmarks.

He hosted his first solo exhibition at the age of 10, during which he displayed 20 of his paintings at the Ion Art Gallery in Singapore. 

During the exhibition, he decided to paint live in front of his audience, completely ignoring both the cameras and people and simply throwing himself into his painting for over two hours.

Xeo Chu used the abundance of support from art critics and his fans in Singapore and Vietnam to propel himself into a second solo exhibition in 2019 in New York, where he garnered attention from prominent art critics and media, earning himself comparisons to Jackson Pollock and valuations on his paintings in the six-figure range.

A supplied photo of 14-year-old Vietnamese art prodigy Xeo Chu and his works featuring the Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields from Yen Bai Province, Vietnam

A little boy with a big heart

For as long as he can remember, Xeo Chu has spent time with his mother taking charity trips to support causes across Vietnam. 

When he was 10 years old, he donated $500,000 he had earned from selling his paintings to causes supporting underprivileged children, charity organizations, and hospitals.

His charity acts range from providing scholarships to children living in poverty to supplying hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City with medical equipment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Watching TV and seeing the news, I feel bad for people that don’t have a strong heart and older people who don’t have people to take care of them,” Xeo Chu said.

“Knowing that I can use the money I make for good, I didn’t hesitate a single second to help them.”

After Expo Dubai 2021, Xeo Chu’s works will be featured in another solo exhibition in London in January 2022 at the grand Mayfair Castle, following a personal invitation from Vietnam's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Nguyen Hoang Long.

He will then go on to host an exhibition in Paris later in the year.

Works featuring the Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields from the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai by Xeo Chu:





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