HA NOI — Riding a Chaly motor-scooter, a 64-year-old artist has travelled 35,000km around the country to make portraits of Heroic Mothers, the title given to women who as mothers made great sacrifices during the war.
|Picture this: Painter Dang Ai Viet (left) poses with Heroic Mother Doan Thi Long in Khanh Hoa Province after painting her portrait. — VNS Photo
During more than two years, painter Dang Ai Viet travelled to 63 cities and provinces across the country and painted 863 portraits of Heroic Mothers. She showcased the fruits of her labour at an exhibition of 300 sketches and notes taken during the trips held on Tuesday at the Vietnamese Women's Museum.
Viet worked at the Phu Nu Giai Phong (Liberation Women) newspaper during the war of resistance against the US. With her own experiences of war, she thoroughly understands the pain and suffering of wives and mothers whose husbands and children sacrificed their lives for the independence and freedom of the country.
She sympathised with the almost 50,000 Heroic Mothers who shared the heartache of losing loved ones.
During her travels, Viet met many mothers, each one bringing her own emotions to stories of sorrow. The female painter riding on a small motorbike faced many difficulties during her travels, including the dangers of riding through remote and rough terrain. Once, travelling to a mountainous region in the northern province of Lai Chau in heavy rain, Viet had an accident on a muddy track. Finally arriving at the destination later, Viet knew it was worth the effort as the woman she met was the only Heroic Mother left alive in the province.
When Viet came to visit Heroic Mother Nguyen Thi Nghi in the northern province of Yen Bai last year, the 92-year-old was seriously ill. Viet hesitated as she didn't want to portray the mother in the bad situation. But she was told that Nghi had three sons sacrificed during the resistance and her last remaining son asked her to paint his mother.
"Her son told me that this may be the last image of his mother, and it may be the last time I can see her, so I decided to paint," Viet said.
The Vietnamese Book Records Centre has called Viet the artist who has painted the most portraits of Heroic Mothers.
The exhibition is not only the summary of a long journey but also gives thanks from the artist as well as generations of Vietnamese people to the heroes, heroines and martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the motherland.
The show will run until the end of September at the Vietnamese Women's Museum, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi.
Somewhere out there, Viet is on the road to meet and draw her next Heroic Mothers among the 3,000 left across the country. — VNS