Standing proud in Quang Nam Province, Dinh Gia Thang's statue reflects his respect for the role mothers play in our lives, and has recently received a top national award. Thien Huong reports.
The statue of a heroic mother in the central province of Quang Nam by sculptor Dinh Gia Thang has just won the Gold Medal at the Viet Nam Exhibition 2015.
The exhibition showcases the best art works of Vietnamese artists throughout the country between 2011 and 2015. Thang chats to Thien Huong about the winning work and his career.
Inner Sanctum: The monument of a heroic mother in Quang Nam Province is a special sculpture and work of architecture in the history of the nation's fine arts. Could you tell us a little about it?
First of all, feelings about a mother in art forms such as literature, music, painting, and sculpture have always touched people. To people of any religion or any society, Mother is always the best and beloved image in our hearts. Mother Nation is a holy and noble symbol. When I started to create the statue, my own feelings about my mother and respect to mothers who sacrificed a lot, and sent their beloved children to the battlefront to fight for the country's independence, overwhelmed me.
From those endless feelings, I thought that Mother is an immense and non-stop streamlined work. Mother is the spirit of the country and her image overwhelmed all territories of Vietnamese people. Whenever we travel around the country the image of Mother Nation seems to appear here and there in mountains and rivers.
The feelings overwhelmed me much as the sounds of a melodious symphony with continuous high and low notes, which should be transformed into sculptural language as a stream with the highlight of a Mother Nation in the middle, which is bordered on two sides with faces of her children from around the country. The construction of the whole statue connects with a big lake. The water runs from two cliffs beside the Mother face onto the lake, which is always full. The full lake symbolises the Mother's endless sacrifice to the nation.
When I expressed this idea, I was not limited by any principles while making a statue. I wanted to make the Mother image as if she rises from mountains and rivers, not from the hands of any sculptor. I hope the work has made a special impression on visions and feelings of the public.
|Monument: The giant statue was built to remember the mothers whose children died protecting the country.
The work was inspired from mother Nguyen Thi Thu (1904 - 2010) from Quang Nam Province, whose husband, nine children, one son-in-law and two grandchildren, lost their lives during the two wars against the French and Americans between 1948 and 1975. She has been considered the typical heroic mother in the country and has inspired various art works throughout the country.
She has a beautiful humane face with a lot of strong features representing her braveness. When carving her face, I had tried my best to create the harmony and closeness with the common beautiful features of Vietnamese mothers.
Inner Sanctum: In order to create a sculpture with deep feelings, besides respect and gratitude, you must have a lot of memories with heroic mothers, especially Mother Thu. Is that right?
Mother Thu to me is as close as a family member. I always call her "grandmom" as she is quite old. She won the State title of Vietnamese Heroic Mother that I loved and admired. Though I had known her for five years before she died in 2010, we had shared some memorable experiences. When I visited her in the hospital, she tried her best to sit up. She recalled nostalgically things such as farming work, and how she sang folk songs. Yet, she had never mentioned her loss or her contribution to the nation. Sitting by her, holding her hands, I found her so simple and as kind-hearted as other Vietnamese mothers.
Inner Sanctum: Born in Ha Noi but working in Da Nang, have you seen any advantages and disadvantages while making the work?
I trained at the Viet Nam Fine Arts University and worked in Da Nang since 1980. I have travelled a lot and tried to understand local people.
I was bogged down with a lot of difficulties as the monument complex covers a large area. We had lots of difficulties in transporting big granite blocks to the site from the stone mine, which was located 300km away. The site for constructing the statue was a terrain full of planted mint and difficult to access, which was difficult for figuring out a comprehensive overview to construct a statue.
Inner Sanctum: So, does the large scale of the statue convey a special meaning?
The complex is two in one. It is both a sculptural and architectural work. The whole complex covers a space of 15.3 hectares. So the statue should be big enough to match the site.
Inner Sanctum: This is the first time such a statue has won a gold medal at the National Fine Arts Exhibition. What do you think about the role of a statue in Viet Nam nowadays?
First of all, as an author, I let other experts and concerned agencies judge my work. It is impossible to deny the role of public statues in spreading patriotism and national pride to all people, especially the youth. Statues help create special cultural spaces in both urban and rural architecture. They also play a certain role in promoting tourism. People often pay attention first to special cultural features in each country they visit, which are expressed in architecture. I think we should have more statues with high aesthetic quality and unique creativeness to woo more tourists.
Inner Sanctum: Do you support the building of large-scale statues like your statue of the heroic Vietnamese mother?
I think it is necessary to start first from the need of the country and people. Even in other countries, not every large-scale architecture such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the National Theatre in Sydney is supported. But then, many such huge architectures turn out to be the cultural symbols of their countries.
The central province of Quang Nam had intended to build a statue of the mother on a smaller scale of 4ha at the March 24 Park. However, after numerous meetings between relevant agencies and after collecting opinions from experts all over the country, it concluded that it would make a symbol of the Vietnamese mother in Tam Ky City of Quang Nam, which hosts the most mothers who have lost sons during the wars.
The provincial authorities have chosen Cam Mountain to build the monument in a total site of 15.3ha. The work requires long-lasting material. That is why granite stone has been chosen. In fact, within eight months of its opening, there have been hundreds of visitors coming to the site. I hope that when the museum inside the monument and other small works in gardens surrounding the site are completed, there will be more and more visitors.
Inner Sanctum: Could you talk a little about your style of creating sculpture now and your future plans?
There are many ways open to all styles of creating, not only to me but also to many other scupltors in a more and more open environment.
Yet, I think searching for a style of creating a painting or sculpture depends on the topic and the inspiration of the artist. He/she may follow a style or blend some styles together in a work. For the monument of Mother Viet Nam, I have mixed realism, symbolism and surrealism. The important thing is knowing how to bring into full play art styles when we understand them thoroughly, so that each work is really a valuable brain child, which brings to audiences the real values of creativeness and humanity, but not following the current trend or imitating the so-called most modern styles of the time. My future works will be different findings from different styles. I always try my best to renew myself, while maintaining my own style. — VNS