Since the 1950s, installation and performance are two branches of contemporary art that have become important facets of mainstream art. Vietnam’s modern artists, forever innovators, are at the forefront of expanding installation and performance art into new realms.
First appearing in Vietnam in the early 1990’s, several small installations and performance shows first appeared at an out-of-the-way corner of Buoi Street, Hanoi, at the stilt house of painter Nguyen Minh Duc. For many years, this was where new art exhibitions, seminars, and meetings of the contemporary art community took place. The stilt house quickly became known as a generator for the country’s fledgling contemporary art scene.
Shortly thereafter, international cultural centers began to establish, further pushing the growth of modern art. In late 1991, the Center for French Language and Culture (Alliance Francaise) was founded and made its headquarters near Hanoi University of Art, No. 42 Yet Kieu Street. The British Council came next, first operating in early 1993, while the Goethe Institute was established by Germany in early 1997. In the following years, many contemporary art programs of both Vietnamese and foreign artists have been produced and presented at these cultural centers.
At the beginning of 2001, the Hanoi Contemporary Art Center was founded under the joint-sponsorship of the Vietnam Association of Art and the Ford Foundation. In less than three years, the center had taken a center role in contributing to domestic exhibitions, foreign relations, and in supporting student experimental art projects. The center’s arrival, along with Duc’s stilt house, has fostered a healthy environment for the growth of experiment art in Hanoi and in Vietnam.
The year 2003 marked a big step in the progress of modern are with the birth of L’Espace from former Alliance Francaise, headquartered at No.24 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi. L’Espace, with its exhibition halls, small theater, and large library, is example of maximized foreign support of Vietnam modern art. In early 2004, the Goethe Institute moved to No.56 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi. The Goethe’s relocation was inaugurated with a very impressive and successful installation art show called “Green, Red, and Yellow”. Dozens of Vietnamese and foreign artists contributed to the show. Since mid-2004, the British Council in Hanoi has also supported a series of experimental art projects, bringing together many Vietnamese and British artists. One such production was the fashion show “Street Symphony”, which combined music, sound, visual images and light with modern fashion. The show was a success in Hanoi and later in the year toured at the Hue festivals. In the year 2005, contemporary art continued to spread across the nation’s galleries and studios. Though a relatively small movement, modern art in Vietnam increasingly attracts young artists. In the meantime, the general public has had the time to familiarize with the new art trend. In Hanoi, the newly created Ryllega Gallery at 1A Trang Tien Street has quickly become reliable space for experimental art, exposing the interested public to new art trends and artists. During the Hue festival, the New Space Art Gallery at No.7 Pham Ngu Lao Street opened a series of installation and performance art exhibitions and activities.
Meanwhile, in Ho Chi Minh City, many small galleries and studios have supported some artists in realizing their art experiments. For example, A Little Blah Blah, Atelier Wonderful, Gallery Quynh, Green Space at the Art Museum, and Himiko Visual Saloon, are all spaces in HCMC that support modern art events. The upcoming Saigon Open City Center, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, has turned an old factory neat the Saigon River into a place for large scale installation and performance exhibitions.
In Hanoi, since early 2006, those interested in contemporary art have witnessed the appearance of the Viet Art Center at No. 42 Yet Kieu Street near Hanoi University of Art. This past July, there was a beautiful and inspiring installation exhibit called “Books”. From September until the end of October this year, the Viet Art Center is collaborating with the Center for Prehistoric South East Asia and the Hanoi University of Art to organize an exhibition of photos and documents about a Sapa ancient carved stone site. This result is a fusion of art an archaeological research.
Today the expansion of contemporary art continues. By the end of this year, Vietnam Red Space will be completed on the large site of world-renowned Anh Khanh’s studio on Hanoi. The space will be reserved for experimental art activities and exchange programs between Vietnamese and foreign artists. In addition, an artist residency program known as “Campus” has proven a popular stamping ground for Hanoi’s modern artists since its inception last year. Local artists come to collaborate with foreign resident artists, to experiment with each other in different artistic mediums, to participate in free English classes, or simply to gain the friendship and guidance of Marcus Mitchell, the program’s charming director.
As developments flourish, modern art continues to expand in Vietnam, the impact of such through institutional support of the arts reverberated throughout Vietnam’s art world and, more broadly, for art enthusiasts everywhere
Vietnamese Silk Painting
The traditional Vietnamese art of silk painting has become famous around the world for its simple poetic themes and vibrant colors. The success of a silk painting very much depends on the quality of the silk, and this depends on many factors, from the quality of cocoons to the decisive techniques of starching and weaving.
Differently with other kinds of paintings, the silk canvas are usually not painted. The Vietnamese traditional silk painting style tends to use the silk canvas directly as the background of the painting. The colors are used delicately with the canvas to make Vietnamese silk paintings. The delicate white color found in the sky, water, or human portrait, is the color of silk. The color of silk is well known to describe human figure in the paintings of many famous Vietnamese artists. Delicate color and silk background give the paintings such an harmony with the nature. Whatever style they follow, silk painters must have an intimate knowledge of the material and fully exploit its shininess and its attractiveness. Painting silk is full of changing and unexpected characteristics, and a wrong stroke of the brush is irreversible.
These paintings are made by the Vietnamese artists in Hue, central of Vietnam (110km from North of Da Nang.) These paintings are about the beauty of Hue, the most splendid royal capital of Vietnam, and of other famous provinces of Vietnam. This is an interesting collection that reflects the beauty of Vietnam via various lanscapes and vietnamese daily activies. The bamboo scroll silk paintings are made in the north of Vietnam. The oriental bamboo scrolls are perfect frames for the paintings.
Each painting is a great description of the beautiful nature and talented skills of the Vietnamese
Dong Ho Painting
Dong Ho Painting is a kind of Vietnamese folk painting originating in Dong Ho Village in Song Ho Commune, Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh Province. Dong Ho paintings have about 300 years of history in the north of Vietnam.
Dong Ho pictures are printed on a special kind of Dzo paper. The printing paper is made of bark of a tree called "Dzo". Artists use pine leave brushes to coat Dzo paper with sea bivalve mollusk powder to create a sparkling colorful background. Colors of the painting are refined from various kinds of tree leaves, which people can easily find in Vietnam. Traditional artists use all-natural colors for their pictures: burnt bamboo leaves for black, cajuput leaves for green, copper rust for blue, pine resin for amber, and crushed egg shells mixed with paste for white. The painting is covered by a layer of sticky rice paste to protect the painting and their colors. They are so long lasting, so that it is very difficult to make them dimmer even time or daylight.
Dong Ho Painting has produced hundreds of famous works such as the romantic and humorous “Catching coconuts”, “Teacher” which captures old educational practice and “Jealousy scene” satirizing the polygamous system. But the most famous ones are the pictures of pigs with Ying and Yang circles on the bodies. People in the countryside used to buy Dong Ho pictures for decoration during Tet.
In the past, December was the month households started to produce pictures for Tet. Dong Ho pictures were sold at most rural markets. Those who went shopping for Tet never failed to bring home several Dong Ho pictures, believing they would bring good luck.
The Vietnamese Art Phases
1925-1945 The Establishment of the Fine Art College of Indochine
1995 marks the 70th year of existence of Vietnamese painting. From 1925 to 1945, the first epoch of the history of Vietnamese painting coincides with the history of the Fine Arts College of Indochina (FACI) because it was that college which created conditions for the birth and development, vigorous until now, of Vietnamese painting... The principal promoter of the programme concerning the fine arts was Victor Tardieu (1870-1937) and Josheph Inguimberty (1896-1971).
Victor Tardieu was a painter having profound knowledge of Oriental art. His oil paintings were extremely simple in form and quite tasteful in colors, their presentation reflected spaciousness, laying emphasis on the general composition. While Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam, Le Thi Luu... were influenced by Tardieu and always kept good memory of the first solid steps laid by the later to allow them to advance still further. To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Gia Tri, Tran Van Can, Luu Van Sin were inclined to Inguimberty's side. From the beginning, To Ngoc Van was among the openairists with his canvas Offerings realized in the impressionist way. Tran Van Can is to be mentioned with his canvas Little Thuy in the style of the portraits by Vermeer de Delft, a Dutch painter, pure but solid, carefully done and refined... These were works realized in the open air or in front of models in natural light and colours...
Before 1925 all Vietnamese painters had no clear conception of painting. They joined the FACI with the sincere confidence and the deep and burning aspiration to rapidly attain the Beautiful of which they had only a vague but so captivating imagination. Within 20 years (1925-1945) Vietnamese painters had engaged in the search for a model in ancient or modern times, in the West or the East. They approached the Schools of European painting at the beginning of the 20th century: fauvism, cubism, symbolism, expressionnism, surrealism, futurism, abstractionnism. And only those who could assimilate European painting and had moral and material conditions were capable of ensuring the continuous development of national art. To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Gia Tri, Tran Van Can, Nguyen Tuong Lan, Nguyen Tien Chung, Luu Van Sin... and later Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Nguyen Sang, Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Sy Ngoc, ect, belong to this class of painters... 1945-1954 Painters volunteer to fight for national salvation
1945. The Revolution had awaken the national sense and at the same time political consciousness among the Vietnamese artists. A movement among the artists to support the Viet Minh gained ground in Hanoi with uncommon speed.
The national exhibition solemnly organized at the Municipal Theater of Hanoi in August 1946 gathered the works of various genres by the patriotic artists of Vietnam: oil painting, pumice lacquer, gouache, water color, wood cutting, most of them treating subjects relating to the struggle of Vietnam for a new life. In 1948, after three years of war, the second national exhibition of fine arts was organized in a forest of palm trees (Xuan Ang village, Phu Tho province) with about 100 pictures, including silks, wood engravings, propaganda drawings. The Third Exhibition was organized in Chiem Hoa, on the occasion of the anniversary of the day of national resistance.
During the 9-year war of resistance against the enemy, Vietnamese painters ceaselessly manifested their sense of responsibility to ward history. Prompted by revolutionary optimism and confident in the victory of independence and freedom, all the combatants who on their own will stood on the cultural and artists front had overcome with courage the difficulties of the war to put their art at the service of their people and their fatherland. 1954- 1995 From socialist realism to the-after war multiform tendency
1954. The 5th National Exhibition of Fine Arts was solemnly organized at the municipal theater of Hanoi, on the occasion of the victory festival. It was an also opportunity to review the nine years of painting during the resistance war. But the sacrifice of To Ngoc Van, killed during the resistance, was considered a big loss for Vietnamese painting that nothing could compensate.
At the moment of victory, returning to the capital there were only about thirty or forty painters from all parts of the country. The Fine Arts College of Vietnam urgently founded as early as 1955 to train new painters, was placed under the direction of Tran Van Can. In the meantime, in the South, on Dec.31,1954, painter Le Van De set up the National Fine Arts College of Saigon, with collaborators the majority of whom having graduated from the Fine Arts College of Indochina: Nguyen Van Long, U Van An, Nguyen Van Anh, Nguyen Van Que...and painters returning from France, like Duong Van Den, Bui Van Kinh. During its twenty years of existence, the National Fine Arts College of Saigon had produced renowned painters: Nguyen Trung, Nguyen Phuoc, Do Quang Em, Ho Huu Thu, Co Tan Long Chau, Nguyen Thi Tam, Nguyen Trung Tin, Nguyen Tan Cuong... After 1975, the National Fine Arts College of Saigon merged with the National Decorative Arts School of Gia Dinh to become the Fine Arts College of Ho Chi Minh City, now the Fine Arts University of Ho Chi Minh City.
Embracing new themes centred on man in work, production and combat as well as consulting the art works created for labouring people by French artists as Fougeron, Amblard and Taslitzky or by Italian atitsts as Pizzinato, Trecani and Guttuso, the young Vietnamese painters have finally identified themselves to create a very fruitful progressive realism
Overview of Vietnamese Art
Through the Upheavals of History
Compared to other Asian countries, and according to several art commentators, Vietnam was the earliest to merge into the main stream of modern art, as defined by the West, in both form and content. Such a fact can be easily seen with the coming into existence of Ecole Des Beaux Arts (Indochina's School of Fine Art) in the early 1930s, with the presence of professors from France.
Western style in technique and the use of color was what the first student generation trained in this school obtained. The techniques however were employed by the graduate artists to depict the aesthetic essence of Vietnam, especially the freedom and generosity of an Asian soul. Such a fundamental beginning had laid the foundation for the younger generations to follow and again led to their success.
In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the first generation of Vietnam Is modern artists joined in the international market of art and was highly evaluated, in Vietnam as well as overseas. From then on, they gained good reputation and were honored the masters of Vietnam’s modem art. Among them were To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Phan Chanh, Nguyen Gia Tri, Bui Xuan Phai, Le Pho, Tran Van Can, Nguyen Do Cung, Nguyen Lien Chung, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Duong Bich Lien, and so on.
At present, members of' the first generation have all gone, except two artists, Nguyen Tu Nghiem (Ha noi), and Le Pho (Paris); nevertliciess, their names leave become almost immortal in Vietnam's art history.
The wars against colonialists and the U.S. imperialists unintentionally parted Vietnam's modern art into various styles, each of which has its own way to proceed toward perfection. This was most clearly seen in the differences found in the works of art of the North and South during the separation of Vietnam, the fierce struggles an people's fighting spirits were reflected on the one hand whereas realism-criticism, romanticism, and escapism into the dream of peace pervaded the art landscape of the occupied South.
Without mentioning the historical situation of the country (temporary separation period during 1954-1975 and a pre-renovation period during 1975-1990), Vietnam’s contemporary art bas always experienced two parallel processes of integration:
1. The integration and catching up between the Northern and Southern styles.
2. The integration into the international market of modem art writes preserving the traditional genres and the mythical nature of the Oriental. Vietnam’s contemporary art was heart of a nation that underwent relentless upheavals. Peace regained from the wars of national defense has become a unique source of living materials never seen in art else where. And such materials leave provided artists now and in the future powerful inspiration Past and Present...
In Northern Vietnam nowadays, the tradition of Dong Ho Paintings, or the "self-portraits" of Vietnam’s earliest folk painting traditions, are well preserved. In 1024, there existed 2,000 paintings of Buddha which served as the foundation of the presently - popular Dong Ho Paintings. And from Dong Ho Village, where stands the great 18-century tombstone produced in Canh Hung Dynasty, on which details of the painting trade were recorded, 17 different clans specialized in wood-block have supplied the market with paintings and sculptures depicting history, daily activities, landscapes, social courtesies, proverbs, ritual ceremonies, caricatures, etc. to convey popular philosophy.
Over time and at present, the Dong Ho traditions are reflected, in various decrees and in both content and composition, in the works of contemporary artists. It could be said, perhaps, that the very touch of popular traces has distinguished Vietnam’s contemporary art from that of the world.
Before 1975, the Northern contemporary art developed in the direction of socialist realism, with the establishment of the Resistance School of Fine Art in the early days of the revolution in the 1940s, and the fighting and working spirits are still depicted in paintings of resistance artists, most of whom are now retired soldiers. These works in the eyes of art collectors reflect the nostalgia for Vietnam’s latest era of heroism. Without seeing the collections of.Art by Vietnamese veteran artists, it would be difficult for us to imagine the longings of an artist behind bars gazing the beaches on Con Dao and Phu Quoc islands, or the spiritual power of Vietnam shrouding over the Ca Mau Mangrove Forest, Sat Forest, and rubber plantations in the Southeast, or on the Hochiminh Trail along Truong Son Ranges when the troops stopped over.
During our nation’s struggle for independence and freedom, 45 painters and sculptors from the School of Fine Art and Decoration and the Saigon College of Art took part in the revolution. As participants in the revolution war, the two generations of teachers and students fostered the same patriotic zeal and artistic creativity during the war-time reality.
After 1975, nine out of 45 had fallen down and most of the rest 36 are still invoked in art. Many of them are professors at the Ho Chi Minh City College of Fine Art, and at the same time working artists, Co Tan Long Chau, Le Van Kinh, Nguyen Sang, Huynh Cong Nhan, Quach Phong, Nguyen Van Son, Le Vinh, Hoang Tram... are a few examples.
Their epic works on the 30 years of history have been highly evaluated by art collectors. Many private and joint galleries run by the resistance artists have attracted a great number of viewers, and many of their paintings were financially successful.
Also before 1975, the painting of the temporarily occupied Southern Vietnam had made a lot of progress with the Saigon College of Fine Art, Binh Duong and Bien Hoa Schools of Fine Art and the School of Fine Art in Hue. The successful artists in the international market of art include Thai Tuan, Ta Ty, Duy Thanh, Ngoc Dung, Vi Y, Ngo Viet Thu, etc.
Between the 1960s and 1970s, members of the Young Artist Association including Nguyen Trung, Lam Triet, Nghi Cao Uyen, Ho Hun Thu, Nguyen Lam, Nguyen Phuoc, Do Quang Em, Trinh Cung, etc. brought about a fresh breeze of creativity, gaining a good reputation in Vietnam and the outside world. Presently some of them are living in the U.S., sculptors Mai Chung, Duong Van Hung and painters Nghieu De, Nghi Cao Uyen, Lam Triet, Nguyen Phuoc, etc.
Those remain in Vietnam, Ho Hun Thu, Nguyen Trung, Trinh Cung, Do Quang Em, Nguyen Lam, Cu Nguyen, together with Lam Triet who recently returned from overseas, have become a valuable core group. Besides, that the young artists of surrealism, semi- abstract and abstract schools of art under the instruction of Nguyen Trung and Ca Le Thang, have injected a new atmosphere of creativity, and helped accelerating the integration of Viet - nam' s contemporary art into the world. This has been a spontaneous act which utilises the cream talents of the North and South youth just as they set out to achieve when coming to the world of art.
Vietnamese art in the world and domestic markets.
During 1988 - 1990, which may be seen as a landmark, in Vietnam and especially in Ho Chi Minh City an art market came into being. Earlier, in the early 1980s, some overseas Vietnamese from The U.S., Australia, and Canada came back to collect paintings of famous artists of pre-1975 Saigon, e.g. Ngoc Dung, Thai Tuan, Vi Y, Duy Thanh, etc. and of such renowned artists as Nguyen Gia Tri, Bui Xuan Phai, etc.. Their activity gradually became a catalyst for the emergence of an exciting art market from 1990 on.
Before 1990, it was scarce for an artist to sell his painting for over USD 1,000. Since early 1992, bower, the prices of Vietnam’s paintings soared up significantly due to their distinct quality. The price of about 3,000 USD for a painting was quite common. In 1993, Ho Huu Thu’s abstract lacquer paintings were sold at the price USD 15,000 to a Japanese collector. At the end of 1995, in La Vong Gallery in Hongkong the realistic oil-painting "The kettle and the Tea-cup" by Do Quang Em was sold at USD 50,000, breaking all doubts on the prices of the artist' s paintings in the domestic market and providing a stimulus for other artists.
Also from the year 1990, when many Vietnamese artists were asked by collectors, galleries and the World Cultural Association to display their paintings at international exhibitions in the U.S., France, Denmark, Australia, Hongkong, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand, their artistic skills were highly evaluated by the intenational art community. From then on a translation market appeared with the increasing number on international collectors coming to Viet - Nam to buy paintings on the spot, and to invite individual artists or groups of artists to participate in overseas exhibitions. These undertakings have enabled Vietnam’s art to quickly rejoin the art world after years of interruption... However opportunities for the majority of artists to exchange with the world are still scarce. For some gifted artists, their difficult financial conditions are a major obstacle as they do not easily have opportunities to come into contact with art collectors.
Equal opportunity for the artist community in terms of participation in domestic and international exchanges, especially for the visual arts, is an essential precondition for the artists to get to the summit of their creative work. That is a target for the world in general, and for Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City in particular. The requirement has been acknowledged by the cultural and arts authorities, the various associations and groups including the Association of Visual Artists, the Writers' Association, the Re- porters' Association, the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association and so on, but the ongoing activities have not brought much results.
Since late 1,991 and carry 1992, any- how, in Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, and especially Ho Chi Minh City, galleries have sprung up one after another and exhibitions have taken place every week, expressing a novel vitality to Vietnam's contemporary art both at home and abroad
Contemporary Vietnamese Art at a Glimpse
It is not very long since Vietnamese art in general and contemporary Vietnamese art in particular emerged from unrecognizing - I'd rather say anonymity - to have its say on the world's art scene. For a long period, scholars and researchers in the West were prone to dismiss Vietnamese culture as a wan replica of Chinese or a mishmash of French-Chinese-Indian cultures. That Vietnam owes much to those great civilizations is undeniable, but it in no way means that Vietnamese culture is a mere pro-duct of mimicry. It is safe to say that what has enabled Viet Nam to survive as a nation through an aggregate thousand-odd years of foreign domination is that she has known how to digest foreign influences and incorporate their quintessence into her own culture.
In these days, when people are speaking of an identity crisis in Asian art; Vietnamese art has become a center of attraction. Indeed, Vietnamese art works, in the last decade, have been increasingly sought after by foreign collectors and art lovers. Exhibitions of contemporary Vietnamese art organized in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, the USA, and Argentina...have commanded attention and acclaim.
Indeed, the art scene here is showing such a brimming vitality and explosive diversity as could never be seen in the past. The current blooming of Vietnamese art springs from our earnest urge toward self-affirmation as a culture with its own unmistakable identity and can be interpreted as the tumultuous release of long-suppressed of creative desires. This is a time of change and I'd rather lay emphasis on the younger generation. Vietnamese artists have now become more exploratory and go-ahead, trying to attune themselves to international trends as they are enjoying the benefits of artistic freedom of expression in the salutary climate of Doi Moi. A powerful upsurge of new art forms and revitalized traditions are moving Vietnamese art forward. Young artists are seeking their hallmarks based on their own experience and personal vision, increasingly showing self-confidence and audacity in their work. Theirs is a generation without complexes. They are not overawed by what their elders had done in their capacity as pioneers, nor do they attempt to make tabula rasa of the past. While doing their best to wed tradition with modernity, they are in no way traditionalistic, well aware as they are that traditions can sometimes become impeding and conducive to conservatism.
Of this young generation, the first group to gain international renown by their works is the Gang of Five, composed of five Hanoi painters: Hong Viet Dung, Ha Tri Hieu, Dang Xuan Hoa, Tran Luong and Pham Quang Vinh. Concurrently rising to prominence are such artists as Tran Trong Vu, Hoang Hong Cam, Nguyen Than, Bui Minh Dung, Le Quang Ha, exponents of a robust neo-expressionist trend. Among the foremost adepts in abstractionism, are Nguyen Trung, Do Hoang Tuong, and Tran Van Thao. Do Minh Tam, Tran Luong, Le Hong Thai...The romantic-minded Nguyen Thanh Binh and Pham Luan charm with their sunny palettes and enchanting lyricism. Such cutting-edge art forms as performance and installation begin to be explored and are no longer unfamiliar to the public. The iconoclast Truong Tan turns a corner from orthodoxy by producing most unconventional works straightforwardly expressing his gay convictions. Nguyen Bao Toan, Nguyen Minh Thanh in Ha Noi and Le Thua Tien in Hue are among the first "engage" installation artists to produce in Viet Nam. Mention should be made of Vu Dan Tan the Sorcerer who turns castoffs into art works, the minimalist Le Thiet Cuong,the unclassifiable Dinh Y Nhi with her hallucinatory black-and-white paintings, the instinctive Vu Thang with his compelling use of mixed media in lacquer painting....
Indeed, it is this complex-free generation that is setting the tone for the future of Vietnamese art. They do not content themselves with following up traditions. They are fashioning a new vision that keeps drawing substance from national roots and are accordingly creating a new tradition - the tradition of the New
Vietnamese Paper Painting
Among the Vietnamese plastic arts, wood engraving is a long standing traditional one. We have inherited from our ancients from Dong Ho village a valuable tradition of wood engraving in color. These engravings are appreciated by generation to generation and have become an indispensable moral alimentation. Dong Ho images have their place deep in the soul of the people and their features have kept their sharpness in spite of the upheavals of the times.
With color as red as peony, as yellow as ripe paddy, as green as a young rice plant the images have by themselves the taste of rural areas in all their characteristic rusticity.
The engraving is always performed on the wood of persimmon-tree, which is sole and does not swell when dipped in water. In printing, starch plays an important role. Mixed with starch a coloring matter forms a solid and clear paste suitable for creation. Besides, scallop shells give a typically Vietnamese gleam and constitute a decorative element of printed pictures of a very simple treatment. The genre of painting on paper using gouache, water color, pastel, ink, color pencils, drawing charcoal, sauce occupies an important position in Vietnamese painting. In many cases, these pictures have been works of great artistically value, and what is particularly precious is that they have expressed the direct sensations of the painter before the objects, sensations that cannot be repeated. Quite a few of these painters have thus created representative works contributing to the different stages of the history of painting. Sy Tot has created the best of his gouache in the All children can study. The composition of the picture is pyramidal, the drawing without artifice, each figure is set off by light. It is surprising that Sy Tot's style highly resembles that of Le Nain, although Sy Tot has not even known Le Nain and his style stems merely from his intuition
Vietnamese Oil Painting
After the restoration of peace, Tran Van Can produced a canvas retying the rope of the irrigation scoop, which was a creation of high professional level he had long mastered. Duong Bich Lien looked at things in a global way; he brought landscapes and scenes to the level of symbols. In his canvas Harvest, the author has simplified to the utmost the scene of harvest: only golden waves succeeding one another to the horizon.
Nguyen Do Cung who was a veteran graduate of the FACI has made an oil painting, the machine building workers in 1962. He spent a rather long time at the engineering factory of the Cam Pha mines, living and working with the workers. Piles of documents, drawings, and sketches were prepared for this painting depicting a nascent large-scale industry of the country if one pleads for a "painting reflecting the individual" likes Vlaminck - a French painter in the early 20th century - Bui Xuan Phai has been able to materialize this conception.
It suffices to admire his paintings to realize that Bui Xuan Phai was in a state of mind heavy with past memories, that he took the past as a source of inspiration. Bui Xuan Phai was a veteran painter but he began to win public attention from the 1970s with his works on the old streets of Hanoi. He had recourse to bright colors and stylized forms in black outlines, like a glass panes of a window.
He has contacted with the works of Rouault. Toulouse-Lautrec and painters of force and rapidity has given influence which he applied to his paintings, adding the flavor of the old streets of Hanoi to that of modern time.
Many young painters have received his influence and he is considered as one of the four most talented artists of our time. Over two decades 1970s and 1980s, it seemed that oil painting did not surpass that of the first year after the restoration of peace to respond to the demand of socialist realism.
It is easy to understand when many good oil painters had chosen pumice lacquer or silk painting. Since 1925, oil painting in the poetical realist painting has acquired solid traditions and made continuous development, contributing many art works of value to the revolutionary painting
Vietnamese Lacquer Painting
The principal material for pumice lacquer painting is Vietnamese lacquer, used to lacquer cultural objects and current usage articles. After his arrival in Hanoi, one day Inguimberty accompanied Nam Son in a visit to the Temple of Literature. He was amazed at a layer of lacquer covering the ancient cultural objects, the parallel sentences and the columns of the sanctuary. Time - several centuries - had changed this layer of lacquer into an extraordinarily beautiful color scales.
Inguimberty was gained over by the "Annamite lacquer" and later on engaged in trying lacquer in painting. Inguimberty had made a great service to the development of Vietnam lacquer painting. He was of the view that only the Vietnamese were capable of making lacquer painting, just like oil painting was the privilege of Europeans. However this malicious resin has rather extravagant characteristics. To have it dry, it must be kept in heat. The cold and dry weather prevents it from being ever dry. To paint with lacquer, one must paint in depth what is in the external layer of the picture and paint above what is in the internal layer, then rub it with pumice and the picture will be visible. The strokes must be minute because there is a great deal of sticky matter and a high degree of homogeneity must be achieved in the lacquer, because everything might disappear during the pumicing. The creation is done in several stages, after each of them, the lacquer dries and only then can one start the following stage. A small mistake can be disastrous. Thousands of other difficulties are to be overcome, the working rules must be strictly observed. Only a true artisan in the lacquering art who has inherited the secrets transmitted from generation to generation can resolve these problems. The palette of lacquer painting includes only the color of “canh gian” (cockroach wings), then (black), son (red), silver and gold. Gold and silver must be pure gold and silver, which in the present are difficult to obtain. To prepare the color, mother-of-pearl and egg shell are also used. Other materials are sometimes not so effective. If the entire complex stages are got over, sometimes still kept secret, we shall certainly obtain a marvelous world of material, color and light, a magnificent world unknown up to now. In 1958, a delegation of Vietnamese painters brought their lacquer works to the International Exhibition of Fine Arts held in Moscow by the socialist countries. Their works were highly appreciated when the contents of the works reflected the multiple aspects of daily life in a manner characterized by perspicacity and romanticism. Form 1957 onwards, pumice lacquer was more and more recognized as the principal language of the Vietnamese painting. Almost all painters wanted to achieve the most important work of their life by means of this material. Tran Van Can has enthusiastically composed some most successful lacquer paintings in all his artist life. In the race to valorize this traditional material; Nguyen Gia Tri was the first to attain the aim. On the surfaces of the paintings, colors and material constitute layers that intermingle to form a bloc of amber perfectly limpid and Nguyen Gia Tri added strokes to set out his personages in the background, young girls standing or sitting, going to and fro, pursuing a butterfly or picking flowers, playing under the leaves of a weeping willow floating in the wind, or walking on the bank of a lake where white lotuses are blooming. All were arranged in a harmonious rhythm with arabesques to make viewers feel the contrast between extreme richness and maximal modesty. Very few persons can equal Nguyen Gia Tri in lacquer painting. A painter who has made profound studies of pumice lacquer said: "Pumice lacquer can be compared to a religious man who observes strict control of himself, respecting the rigorous rules of his original religion."