Viet Nam News
by Nguyễn Thúy Bình
HÀ NỘI — An ongoing exhibtion at Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum take visitors back to the glorious years of national resistance through 50 artworks by different generations of Vietnamese artists.
Titled Những Năm Tháng Không Thể Nào Quên (The Unforgettable Years) the exhibition displays works of diverse mediums and styles sketched, drawn and painted during and after wars.
"The artists capture moments of heroism and resilience in times of war, and recreate true and honest moments of a soldier’s life, capturing both its ferocity, and the faith and hope that can be seen in the faces of both civilians and soldiers," said Nguyễn Anh Minh, director of the museum, at the exhibition’s opening ceremony on July 20.
The exhibition is a good opportunity to see works of artists across several generations educated at the Indochina School of Fine Arts, including Tô Ngọc Vân, Nguyễn Văn Tỵ and Nguyễn Quang Phòng as well as key figures who followed, like Đỗ Sơn, Lê Duy Ứng and Lê Trí Dũng.
Many of these artists were early recruits to the revolutionary cause and a significant number lost their lives or were injured in the war.
Artist Phòng’s lacquer painting Thủ Đô Kháng Chiến (Capital during the time of resistance) was painted in 1999, more than 50 years after residents of the capital city joined soldiers in a 60-day battle against French colonialists (December 19, 1946 - February 17, 1947), turning streets into trenches.
Artist Phòng (1924-2013) could not finish his studies at the Indochina School because it closed due to the political chaos in the early 1940s.
Lê Trí Dũng’s work is also a lacquer painting. Called Vượt Sông (Crossing the River), it uses an expressionist style. It was done in 1989, three years after the national renewal process called đổi mới was initiated. Dũng, an art student joined the Vietnamese army just as he was about to graduate from Việt Nam Fine Arts College in 1971.
The painting was inspired by his memories about of the Quảng Trị battle – one of the fiercest during the American War – that he directly participated in.
There are also glimpses of the aftermath of war, as artists depict the the quiet endurance of mothers and wives whose role in the final victory was just as critical as that of their serving sons and daughters.
Fond farewell: A 1954 lacquer painting by Nguyễn Hiêm shows a soldier taking leave from his family before going to the battlefield.
Tấm Lòng Người Mẹ (A Mother’s Heart), an oil-on-canvas painting by Đỗ Sơn, is the portrait of an old mother and her grandchild standing before an altar, paying tribute to her children who sacrificed their lives for national independence. Born in 1943, Sơn was one of the nation’s leading artists in the period before the national renewal process.
"All the paintings at the exhibition are very familiar. They remind me of the nation’s resistance against the French and Americans," said Nguyễn Hải Yến, member of Việt Nam Fine Arts Association’s Art Criticism Council.
"The artists sketched during their journeys to the battlefields, because they didn’t have materials to paint. Almost all the paintings at the exhibition are drawn from the sketches and the artists’ memories."
Natalia Kutyreva of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Hà Nội said: "The artworks here are really amazing," she said.
"For me it’s very interesting to see how the tradition of art and ideas about the past and future days is connected in culture.
"And of course it is very important for the society to remember the glorious period of history… ."
The museum is organising the exhibition in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of National War Invalids and Martyrs Day on July 27. The exhibition will be open until July 30 at 66 Nguyễn Thái Học Street, Hà Nội. — VNS