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Sketches reveal misery of war

Update: April, 22/2014 - 10:13
Battle scene: Heading to Sai Gon in 1975, an oil-on-canvas work by Huynh Phuong Dong based on a 1975 sketch.

HCM CITY  (VNS) — Veteran artist Huynh Phuong Dong is celebrating his 90th birthday by displaying oil paintings, sketches, posters, and statues he created in the last several decades at an exhibition that opened in HCM City on Friday.

Most of works are about the American War, which ended in 1975. From his portrait sketches, he carefully selected 40 he did during the war and 60 he created later.

"During the war, doing a painting was difficult, but keeping it was much more challenging," he told people who came to the exhibition.

"I buried at least two or three pieces in different places. I love to keep my works in metal boxes and bury them under termite nests so that no one can find them."

Despite old age and sickness, Huynh Phuong Dong paints every day.

He has converted many of his 20,000 sketches into paintings.

"In the past sketches were not considered artworks, and so I had to slog to make them into paintings.

"But sketches are invaluable records of the war.

"Much material recorded during the war still remains, but I am not healthy enough to complete it all.

"I always ponder about the war and the misery of the people. But I could not record all of the misery and heroism of the Vietnamese people and soldiers."

Besides, because of his age he regretted that he could not reflect upon all the developments taking place in Viet Nam after the war.

Nevertheless, the exhibition features paintings reflecting current developments and the Spratly Archipelago.

Huynh Phuong Dong, real name Huynh Cong Nhan, was born in Gia Dinh (now HCM City) in 1925.

He went to the Gia Dinh Painting College in 1940 before joining the revolution in 1945 in Soc Trang.

His first work was a portrait of President Ho Chi Minh.

Ma Thanh Cao, director of the HCM City Museum of Fine Arts, which is organising the week-long exhibition, said it took the museum and the artist's family three months of preparations.

The museum is at 97 Pho Duc Chinh Street, District 1. — VNS


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