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Sculptor Diep Minh Chau passes away
By: Tran Khanh Chuong

Diep Minh Chau was born in Nhon Trach, Ben Tre province, on February 10, 1919. He liked painting and painted very well in the early days of his childhood, so his friends called him ‘Chau painter.’ Diep Minh Chau learned to paint with teachers Hoang Tuyen in 1935 and Nguyen Thanh Sinh in 1937. In 1940, he went to Hanoi and under the instruction of famous painter To Ngoc Van, he occupied the top position of the entrance exam to 14th intake (1940-1945) of the Indochina Fine Arts College with later famous painter Nguyen Sang. As a student, Mr Chau had a lot of works displayed at exhibitions and winning national and international prizes: one bronze in 1942 and a Salon Unique silver medal. Some years later, Mr Chau joined the Cultural Association for National Salvation in Hanoi and sent his works to exhibitions to raise funds for starving and war victims.

'Uncle Ho with Pioneers.'
In 1945, after graduating the Indochina Fine Arts College, Mr Chau returned to his homeland and participated in the Advancing Youth Movement in Ben Tre. The young artist joined the revolution and was assigned to head a commission for front reportages in the revolutionary base N0 8. Living among people and soldiers at Dong Thap Muoi (the Plain of Reeds) and U Minh forest helped him get an inspiration to paint hundreds of paintings right on the fierce battlefield. These paintings were on display at about 20 exhibitions. Some of his famous paintings at that moment include ‘Landscape of Dong Thap Muoi,’ ‘Literacy Course at Forest Nearby Hut’ and ‘Going through a Forest of Leaves.’ Especially, he painted two blood paintings. One depicts the sacrifice of soldier called Le Hoang Son while the soldier advancing on a battlefield in Vam Nuoc, using blood of the soldier. The painting now can be seen at the Army Museum. Another depicts Uncle Ho with three children from northern, central and southern regions, which was painted with blood of the painter. This painting was sent by himself to President Ho Chi Minh in 1947.

'Young Heroine Vo Thi Sau'
In 1950, Diep Minh Chau was selected to join the International Students’ Conference in Prague (the Czech Republic). Then he came back and lived with Uncle Ho in the Viet Bac revolutionary base from March to July, 1951. It was a great chance for the artist to learn about the great spirit and intellect of Uncle Ho. Diep Minh Chau painted over 30 paintings of President Ho Chi Minh. Some of them are very famous like ‘Uncle Ho Portrait,’ ‘Uncle Ho’s House on a Hill,’ ‘Uncle Ho Working at a House on Stilts in Viet Bac’ and ‘Uncle Ho fishing at Tan Trao Stream.’

In 1951, President Ho Chi Minh and the State sent Diep Minh Chau to the Czechoslovakia Academy of Fine Arts, the Department of Sculpture for study. In 1955, the artist returned to Vietnam and was assigned to paint and sculpture works on Uncle Ho. One year later, he went to India and some other countries like the former Soviet Union and China, to study about monuments and ancient statues.

At the first Congress of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association in March 1957, Diep Minh Chau was selected as a member of the Executive Board. From 1957, he worked as teacher at the Vietnam Fine Arts College. With ‘Portrait of Uncle Ho’ (in 1960) and ‘Uncle Ho Going for National Salvation’ (in 1965), Diep Minh Chau had other works depicting people and soldiers fighting against US imperialists in the south. These works include ‘Vietnamese Mother,’ ‘A Southern Arm in the North’ (1958), ‘Phu Loi’ (1959), ‘Heart of Southern People, ’ ‘Live Torch,’ ‘Workers, Farmers and Soldiers’ (1960) and ‘The Indomitable South’ (1967). His works ‘Young Heroine Vo Thi Sau’ and ‘Lotus Fragrance’ won the first prize at the national fine arts exhibition in 1960. The ‘Phu Loi’ statue won the first prize at the national fine arts exhibition in 1962 and his ‘The Fatherland’s Iron Bulwark’ won the first prize for works with the anti-US resistance war theme. After the national reunification, Diep Minh Chau lived in Ho Chi Minh City. As a great artist, he took part in the establishment of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Association. Diep Minh Chau devoted his life sculpturing statues of Uncle Ho. Some of his work of the theme include ‘Uncle Ho by Lenin Stream,’ ‘Uncle Ho Translating Party’s History,’ and ‘Uncle Ho, Lenin and Karl Mark.’ His statue ‘Uncle Ho with Pioneers’ won the first prize at the national fine arts exhibition in 1980. This statue was then made of bronze with a height of 3.5 metres and erected at the public garden in front of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. The portrait of Uncle Ho was made of granite. This might be the largest granite portrait of Uncle Ho in Vietnam.

Diep Minh Chau has been famous for his works of portraits of famous writers and poets, namely Xuan Dieu, Nguyen Hong and Nguyen Tuan, and other paintings.

General secretary of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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