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Dien Bien Phu through Huy Toan’s paintings (May 12, 2005)

'Memory of Dien Bien' by Huy Toan.
Huy Toan is considered the artistic story teller on the Dien Bien Phu battle as he has created a large number of paintings on the subject.

Together with other artists, painter Huy Toan joined the war and was present at the Dien Bien Phu battlefield. He witnessed the 56 days and nights of fighting that led to the victory of Vietnamese army against the French troops. He then recorded sketches of the historical moment of the nation “with a dream of turning these into paintings so that the younger generation would have a real view on the sacred victory of the nation.”

On the 30th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory (May 7, 1984), painter Huy Toan impressively designed a collection of stamps on Dien Bien Phu, including seven stamps named ‘Politburo’s Meeting’, ‘On the De Castrie Bunker’, Going out to the Battle’, ‘Conscripted Labourers in Firing Line’ ‘Pulling Artillery’ ‘ Shooting Down an Enemy Warplane’ and ‘Occupying Key Position’.

From sketches, the artist made eight metre long paintings: “Dien Bien Phu’s History’, ‘Vietnam Nationalities’ Great Unity and particularly the four painting collection ‘The Epic of Vietnam’.

On the 50th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory last year, painter Huy Toan displayed his 150 paintings on the theme. His works are impressive and lively as they are created from the viewpoint of an insider. Therefore, painter Le Lam said “Without warm heart toward the country, a soul toward Vietnam, a great patriotism, one can’t create such paintings". Minister of Culture and Information Pham Quang Nghi, after viewing his paintings, noted “The great victory of Vietnamese army and people is depicted in every feature of a talented and whole-hearted artist.”

Also on that occasion, Kim Dong Publishing House launched a picture book entitled ‘The story on Dien Bien Phu’ with 50 pictures by artist Huy Toan. These pictures helped Vietnamese children understand more about the glorious tradition of their fathers.

Now, at the age of 75, he is still working hard to complete his half-done work. He said he has completed a 35 metre painting on Ho Chi Minh Campaign which is now on display at the Museum of Military History. He is now completing paintings for the nation’s great events such as National Day, and the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi. These paintings are a result of the pile of diaries and pictures he got 50 years ago on the battlefield.

Mr How Ta Tua Keng, a fine art collector from Hong Kong said that the epic painting of Huy Toan on characters of the battlefield showed his great ability. People and events relating to the war were depicted in a lively and attractive manner...”

That is a fair and satisfactory evaluation on Huy Toan’s paintings.

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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