Vietnam Art Books -- Artist and revolution
By Luong Xuan Doan

Artist and revolution
By Luong Xuan Doan


'Party Admission in the Dien Bien Phu Trench,' lacquer painting by Nguyen Sang.
The first beautiful pages of Vietnam’s modern fine arts were first written by artists To Ngoc Van, Tran Van Can, Nguyen Phan Chanh and Nguyen Do Cung and later by artists Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Bui Xuan Phai and others, and until today, these are the most beautiful pages of the national revolutionary art.

At first these artists lived with their emotion, feeling all that in the past so near and dear, trying to search for what belonged to individualism. Their art works at this stage of their lives such as the painting 'The Girl by Tuberoses,' the portrait “Little Girl Thuy” or the painting 'Playing O An Quan' (Playing Game of Squares) reflect the opening up of a new art. However, when they devoted their lives to serve the revolution and the nation, these artists-citizens-fighters were found present in the barricades and fighting lines against the enemy, and these artists had created their works that amazed the viewers with the paintings describing the Hanoi girls whose ao dai (national long dress) were seen flapping by the barricades in the days when Hanoi was launching the general insurrection against the French aggressive troops.

In the nine-year resistance war against French colonialists, these artists were seen along the fighters in the trenches, with the workers of the arsenal, with the peasants on the rice fields and in the fireline with the suppliers. With the pencils, gouaches, woodcuts, these artists had created sketches with a new outlook and idea, really attracting and moving the human hearts.

Following the Indochina Fine Arts School which had placed art in service of the revolution, the Viet Bac Fine Arts School headed by artist To Ngoc Van had turned out the second generation of artists with such household names as Trong Kiem, Luu Cong Nhan, Tran Luu Hau and Le Huy Hoa who had created the first paintings of the revolutionary art. In the annual book of history, such art works as 'The Soldiers Stop by the Hill' and 'Lung Lo Pass' by To Ngoc Van, 'The Bowl' by Sy Ngoc, 'The Enemy Burnt My Village' by Nguyen Sang, 'The Phu Luu Militiamen' by Nguyen Tu Nghiem, 'I’ll Read for You, Mother' by Tran Van Can, 'Drop in My House' by Trong Kiem, 'The Night Operation' by Duong Bich Lien, 'To Remember a Tay Bac Afternoon' by Phan Ke An or 'The Meeting' by Mai Van Hien and many others. Particularly the monumental lacquer painting 'A Party Membership Admitance Ceremony in Dien Bien Phu' by Nguyen Sang was created after nine years of the Dien Bien Victory (1963), marking the peak of the art of socialist realism.

'Portrait of Soldier,' oil painting by Nguyen Trung.
When the anti-US imperialism struggle for national salvation started, artists of many generations from the North to the South of Vietnam, from the fight against the US war of destruction against the North to the fierce fight against the US troops in the South, lived, fought and created art works in their endless and wonderful inspiration, in which the Vietnamese people in the 20th century were the image that ran through their works. Such magnificent sketches of the battlefields of artists Huynh Phuong Dong, Nguyen Vinh Nguyen, Le Lam and many others from the battlefields of the central part of the country to those in the South were continued by artists Nguyen Tien Chung, Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Luong Xuan Nhi, Nguyen Do Cung, Tran Van Can, Diep Minh Chau and many others, who had confirmed their worthy and important contributions of the Vietnamese generations of artists to the revolutionary plastic art.

'Human Objects ,' gouache painting by Dang Xuan Hoa.
The renovation initiated and led by the Communist Party of Vietnam has created a turn of new development of the Vietnamese literature and art.

In the early 1980s of the 20th century, the 10th National Fine Arts Exhibition reflected the diversity of language and material of the art with the works of artists Dang Thi Khue, Buu Chi, Do Son, Le Huy Tiep, Nguyen Trung, Nguyen Khai, Dao Minh Tri and Ca Le Thang, who had really brought about new expectations. The three consecutive individual exhibitions of artists Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Bui Xuan Phai were the priceless spiritual motive force for the younger generations of artists to make greater efforts on the path of free creativity.

Recognised and encouraged by the Party and State for the freedom of creativity of individuals, the contemporary art of Vietnam has advanced fast and contacted in a direct and equal manner with the world art to create the first images of the renovation of Vietnam. The young artists have implemented with great enthusiasm their “own revolution” concerning the consciousness of aesthetics and the language of the art. There is a boom of individual exhibitions of art works. A life of fine art quite different from the past has been formed. The young artists of the 1980s and 1990s have quickly created the new striking power for the contemporary art. The new names in the late 20th century such as Dang Xuan Hoa, Nguyen Xuan Tiep, Hong Viet Dung, Truong Tan, Dinh Quan and many others have appeared on the first section of the road of the new century with their responsibility in creativity.

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper.

     

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