|Artist Tào Linh.|
Artist Tào Linh will display a series of paintings for Tết (Lunar New Year) in Hà Nội from January 8 to 11 at Exhibition House, 16 Ngô Quyền Street.
Linh is a self-taught artist who specialises in oil-on canvas and dó (poonah) paintings. He was born into a family of artists and initially trained as an engineer.
Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke with the artist about his upcoming exhibition.
Could you tell us about your series of paintings titled Happy Cats?
Purchasing Đông Hồ and Hàng Trống folk paintings ahead of the Lunar New Year is a hobby among Vietnamese people. The paintings are used as decorations for the new year and help to protect from bad things. With a range of colours, an abundance of themes and unique traits, folk paintings not only makes homes more beautiful but also present Vietnamese cultural and aesthetic values.
People nowadays buy zodiac paintings. Many artists, including me, now paint zodiac animals for the new year. I have painted zodiac animals for years. This is the year of the cat, so I called the painting series Happy Cats.
At the beginning of November, one of my followers on Facebook said he will buy all my cat paintings. This is the first time he has bought my paintings after following me for a long time.
He is a businessman with brands including Happy bank, Happy Zen Farm, Happy Book and Happy Pets. And I called the series Happy Cats.
How long did it take you to complete the series? What message do you want to convey through each painting?
Happy Cats includes 40 paintings which I created in November and December. However, I started preparing in August. I use mostly acrylic on canvas because this material offers brighter colours.
For me, paintings not only portray a moment in time, a person, or an event but also show emotion.
Paintings for Tết need to evoke positive feelings for the new year. Each painting is a wish that I want to send to everyone for a happy and peaceful year.
Which zodiac animal do you like to paint best?
I like cats. I always have cats at home. Presently, I'm raising two cats. Among domestic animals, dogs and cats are probably the closest pets to humans. I like cats more because of their characteristics. They seem strong and gentle. They are both bonded to their owners and independent.
The Zodiac animal in Japan, South Korea and China is the rabbit. Only Vietnamese people celebrate the Year of the Cat.
|A painting of cats by artist Tào Linh.|
What do you think about Tết?
I'm more than 60 years old and I have experienced many Tết. I have seen changes in society. My Tết differs from young people's Tết. I was born in wartime when the country was poor and people were hungry. Tết was very special to have new clothes and eat bánh chưng (square sticky rice cake).
People now don't think much about material goods. Many of them want to improve their spiritual and cultural life. It is good for artists and art development.
Why did you initially become an engineer?
My father was an artist and I liked painting. I also studied painting in summer when I was young. However, when I finished high school I passed an examination at Hà Nội University of Science and Technology.
At that time, studying engineering was much better than painting. My father struggled to make a living from his work, so I decided to become an engineer.
However, I still paint as a hobby. I always bring painting tools when I go to work. In 2009-2010 I began painting every day. In 2014 I had my first solo exhibition in Hà Nội and it was a milestone for me. I quit my job and started painting full time. VNS