The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the central city of Hue refused a licence for painter Nguyen Kim Dinh to exhibit 12 nude paintings, the VietNamNet news website said.
Dinh could not be reached and the culture department declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
His exhibit was approved by the Thua Thien-Hue provincial art association but Hue’s culture department then ruled that some of the paintings “don’t meet artistic standards and are inappropriate to Vietnamese habits and custom,” VietNamNet reported.
It quoted Dinh as saying the culture department’s rejection arrived two days before the exhibition’s planned opening on April 10, forcing him to take down the paintings which had already been hung.
“I render the beauty of women,” Dinh was quoted as saying, referring to his work.
VietNamNet reproduced two of his brightly coloured nudes featuring corpulent female forms in an abstract style.
It said that another painter, Phan Van Thuy, was allowed to show his works that were to be exhibited jointly with those of Dinh.
In October 2007, authorities in the communist country allowed a photographer, Thai Phien, to hold Vietnam’s first exhibition of nude photographs in Hanoi but it did not take place because of troubles in finding a venue to display them.
There are paintings of partially naked women among the works at Hanoi’s Museum of Fine Arts but Vietnam, whose 86 million people are mostly Buddhist, is a socially conservative country.
Films, books, photos and artistic works are often censored and those on sensitive topics such as sex are usually banned.