|Early art: Abstract paper-collage work Tinh Yeu.
HCM CITY (VNS) — Sixteen paintings by veteran artist Nguyen Thi Hien never before seen by the public are on display at an exhibition in HCM City.
Created between 1967 and 1979, the paintings are all that remain of Hien's works when almost all of her other paintings have been either destroyed by the war or damaged by the vagaries of nature.
"Many of my paintings at this time were probably lost when I was relocating from Ha Noi to Sai Gon," the artist said.
"One sad sample of this was in the 1980's when I sent more than 40 of my early works to Paris for an exhibition, and they were never returned," she said.
The exhibition titled Nhung Gi Con Sot Lai (Some Things Remain) brings to the public very early works that were painted during a difficult time in Viet Nam. Hien drew them when she was 19 and 20.
The artworks are mainly oil-on canvas while some are water-colour paintings.
Dan Quan (Militia Girl) is Hien's unforgettable memory. It is from the series that Hien portrayed about the militia in the central province of Thanh Hoa.
In 1967, she went to the province where the American war was at its height.
The provincial Ham Rong and Do Len bridges were considered to be the symbols of the Vietnamese resilience during the wartime.
Ham Rong Bridge was the only one across the Ma River ensuring the flow of manpower and war materials by road from the north to the south.
During her two-month stay with the locals near Do Len Bridge she drew a series with a theme Dan Quan.
"I was inspired a lot by my time there. The fierce national resistance and loss of the locals living around me made me strong enough to survive between the two lines of battle," she said.
Tinh Yeu and Ong Tien Si Giay are possibly the most precious works to Hien because they related to her previous lover – late famed poet Luu Quang Vu.
She painted Tinh Yeu for Vu on his birthday while Ong Tien Si Giay was created from a paper-made doctor figure.
Vu was a talented poet and playwright. He was recognised as the most famous playwright in Viet Nam in 1980s.
To many, Hien is one of the leading female artists of her generation.
Sixteen paintings at the Some Things Remain exhibition are not only individual artworks but they are part of Viet Nam's art history. They are an example of war time and post-war period artworks.
The exhibition will run until February 29 at the Antique Street Gallery, 38 Le Cong Kieu Street, District 1, in HCM City. — VNS