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Finnish oral traditions inspire painting exhibition in Ha Noi (March 03, 2005)

Glassed-in: Audiences are curious about images interpreted from Finnish folklore. — VNS Photo Truong Vi.
Two female artists from Viet Nam and Hungary are displaying their interpretations of Finnish folklore in an ongoing exhibition called Kantelatar in Ha Noi.

The original Kantelatar contains more than 600 lyrics and ballads and is the companion work to the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.

Both works were compiled by scholar-physician Elias Lonnrot from poetry passed on by word of mouth over many centuries. The Kantelatar expresses the emotions of Finnish people in daily life and festivals.

The Juminko Foundation of Finland invited two foreign artists to illustrate the Kantelatar with paintings, and some pieces from the work were translated into Hungarian and Vietnamese.

Dang Thu Huong, who graduated from the Ha Noi Fine Arts College, and Bakos Ildiko, who attended Budapest Art University, spent two years researching the Kantelatar to understand how to express it.

Huong, who specialises in oil, silk and lacquer paintings in a classical style, had trouble relating to the epic at first, as more than 30 sections were translated into Vietnamese.

Eventually, Huong decided to use traditional water colours and lacquer for her work. "I see common elements in Vietnamese and Finnish poetry," she said. "I hope when viewers see my paintings, they too will understand the connection."

Ildiko, a sculptress, already knew a little bit about the treasure of Kantelatar through Hungarian stories.

She was inspired by the dramatic stories about women, and chose the sieve as one of her recurring symbols.

The sieve is used in Finnish daily life and in spiritual rituals. And in Hungary, sieve means food. "With my sieves I want to promote peace, prosperity, love and happiness," she said.

Sponsored by the EU, the Finnish government and the embassies of Hungary and Viet Nam, the exhibition was held in Budapest before it came to Ha Noi.

The exhibition will run until March 6 at 29 Hang Bai Street. — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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