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Artist exhibits portraits by famed masters

Update: July, 15/2015 - 11:54
.Artist Van Duong Thanh introduces her collection to audiences. — VNS Photos Le Huong
By Le Huong

Noted painter Van Duong Thanh has, for the first time, put on display her 11 portraits by painters Nguyen Tu Nghiem (1922) and Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988).

Being exhibited in Ha Noi, Thanh said the collection includes seven paintings by Phai, most of which are portraits of Thanh.

Diu Dang (Gentleness), oil, 33x61cm, by Bui Xuan Phai in 1975.

An oil on canvas painting entitled Diu Dang (Gentle) was drawn by Phai in 1974 and another oil on canvas called Van Duong Thanh Ao Do (Van Duong Thanh in Red) was completed in 1975. Both are described as being in good condition.

The oldest painting in the collection is Co Gai Mien Nam (A Southern Girl) that Phai drew in 1960.

"I bought the paintings right at the time the painter completed them, and I sent them to an insurance company overseas," Thanh said. "That's why the paintings are all in good condition."

"I think Thanh was lucky to be a close friend of such noted painters," painter Luong Xuan Doan said. "It's easy to recognise Phai's style in Thanh's paintings. He often drew spontaneously on various materials, even on cigarette boxes."

Doan said he had seen various portraits of Hanoian women made by Phai, who preferred beautiful women with special features such as Thanh's.

"She has special angles on her face," he said.

Thanh admitted that the most valuable painting in her collection is a lacquer painting entitled Dieu Mua Co (Village Traditional Dance) by Nghiem. The painting was displayed in public for the first time at the Louvre Museum in 1999 and has been kept by Thanh as a treasure.

"The painting is really priceless and unique," she said, "The colours are smooth due to the skillful lacquer making techniques, with real 24 karat gold layer at the bottom of the colours' layers."

Artist Van Duong Thanh introduces her collection to audiences. — Photos Courtesy of Van Duong Thanh

Thanh said many agencies have asked to borrow the paintings to exhibit, but she was still thinking about matters involving an insurance company in Sweden, where she has kept the work for dozens of years.

Thanh added that she was lucky to make friends and draw Bui Xuan Phai and Nguyen Tu Nghiem, as well as to be drawn by them. Phai drew 300 portraits of Thanh during the past 21 years, which have been gathered in a book by a Norwegian collector and published overseas.

"At first, Bui Xuan Phai painted me and I painted him. Then, we were so familiar that he did not need me to sit in front of him, but imagined me there as he would paint," Thanh said.

She said in 1974 that she sold her Hoa Sen Trang (White Lotus) painting to the Viet Nam Fine Arts Museum for 300 dong, a great sum, since at that time a monthly salary of an engineer was 30 dong. Then she bought gifts for the master artists, Phai and Nghiem. Their friendships grew gradually and when Thanh became more famous, she bought the paintings they had just completed.

"Thanh's collection of paintings by Phai and Nghiem is a real treasure as it preserves the talented style of the leading painters," Doan said. "Especially when there are so many fake paintings in the market, being able to see their authentic paintings is real happiness."

Artist Van Duong Thanh introduces her collection to audiences.

The collection will be displayed at V-Art Club, 75 Tran Hung Dao Street, until July 25.

On July 18 the club will host an art show with Van Duong Thanh teaching audiences to draw, along with a Q & A session with the artist. The show will start at 10.15am and run until 3pm. Thanh will also offer free portrait sketches to audiences at 2pm.

Those interested can register at fan page or call 04.62601459. — VNS

Our print version comes out on the Sunday Viet Nam News, which is available at newsstand on July 17, 2015.

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