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Exhibit celebrates Mother Goddesses

Update: March, 10/2017 - 10:36
Lady in red
Viet Nam News

by Nguyễn Thúy Bình

HÀ NỘI — An exhibition that opened this week at Hà Nội’s Fine Arts Museum depicts lacquer paintings depicting the Vietnamese practices related to belief in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms, which was recognised a few months ago by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. 

The 26 works were painted by Artist Trần Tuấn Long over nearly 20 years. He tried to exhibit some of them at the National Fine Arts Exhibition in 2000, but the paintings were rejected. "I was a little sad because my work was not recognised. The national exhibition organisers told me that I drew superstitious things," said Long.

However, he was not discouraged from pursuing the theme to which he had been exposed by chance. "One time my foreign friend and I were hanging out and we saw a hầu đồng (spirit medium) at Vua Bà Temple in my home province of Quảng Ninh in the north. It was the first time I encountered the Vietnamese ritual and I became fascinated by it. The bustling sounds, the illusory artistic space in the middle of the night are so strange and so unprecedented that they touched me deeply."

Long painted his first depiction of the practice in 1998 and his latest early this year. He has attended numerous such rituals in an effort to understand them and the spirit mediums, which he depicts on his canvases in great detail. 

Heritage: UNESCO recognition Cô Bơ Thoải Session is the latest work by Long from early 2017. Photo Nguyễn Thúy Bình

"Tens of artworks by Long depict the tranquil, mysterious and at the same time glamourous aura of the practice, embracing the spirit of lacquer in both its classic and modern forms," said veteran lacquer painting artist Lý Trực Sơn. "His paintings are classic, modern, serious, simple, lovely — all at the same time. I greatly appreciate Long’s labour and his works will no doubt stand the test of time."

Triptych talent

Long graduated from the Việt Nam Accademy of Fine Arts. He is a member of the Việt Nam Fine Arts Association and a group of Vietnamese lacquer artists. Khánh has had solo and group exhibitions in Việt Nam and Taiwan; South Korea and Germany. He has also gained awards such as the Việt Nam-ASEAN Fine Arts Prize in 2004 and first prize of the Việt Nam Fine Arts Association in 2015.

Tripartite soul

"Mother Goddesses through the unique lacquer paintings by artist Long opens the 21st century genre of Vietnamese rituals painting," art critic Lương Xuân Đoàn wrote in introduction words.

The exhibition will run until March 15 at 66 Nguyễn Thái Học Street, Hà Nội. — VNS

 

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