Xeo first began painting after begging his mother, who owns an art gallery in Vietnam, to allow him to paint at her gallery. For the New York exhibition, he created an unnamed 4.5-metre (15-foot) long, four-panel piece. “My mum told me I was going to have an exhibition in New York. So, I was like, ‘Oh, let’s make a big painting for this.’ It took three months to complete.
Xeo did a telphone interview for Artnet magazine, where he talked about what he’s going to do with the money he has made, and how his work has evolved over his seven-year career. You can read more of that interview here.
How does it feel to have your paintings go for such high prices?
Xeo donates most of his earnings to a charity called Heartbeat Vietnam. "I donate it for children my age because I feel like, I have school and my mom, and a lot of care and support, but other kids don’t, so I want to help them."
What’s it like when you’re in the studio?
"I feel lonely sometimes, so I listen to music, and sometimes my mom helps me. But I also have a teacher who is an artist, so he shares his experience with me. He lets me choose what I want to draw, and what colours to use. Sometimes he makes suggestions. Sometimes we go outside to paint, too."
How has your art changed over the seven years you’ve been working?
"When I started, I painted what I saw. In my house I saw flowers, so I would paint that. But now I travel more. Last year I went to Canada in autumn, so I painted that. I recently went to Hạ Long Bay, in Vietnam and it was really cool, really unique."
How do the abstract paintings arise?
"It’s also from what I see. For example I went to Canada in autumn, so I saw sunlight through the trees. I tried to make that through an abstract painting."
What is your painting process like?
"For example, the Hạ Long Bay painting that I did, I put water on the canvas to make an effect, to make it look better, and then I will use my brush. I will put paint on the canvas from the bottle to make leaves or flowers. Sometimes I paint trees. I make lines in different directions to make a tree, and then I just keep going."
Tell me more about how you made Hạ Long Bay, the 15-foot-long painting in the show.
"I heard I was going to have an exhibition in New York, and it took me, like, three months to do it, because it was really big, It was the first time I’ve done something so big, but for this show I wanted to do something special. At first it was really hard, because I had to work differently. There’s mountains on the water, and caves, that was the inspiration. I kind of draw things out on a notebook so I know what I’m doing. It took a lot of time."
Like young Xeo, I was lucky to have parents who inspired me on my journey to become an artist. If your child loves to create and explore, give them your support. It can go a long way to help them achieve their dream.