HÀ NỘI — Phan Kế An, one of the leading artists of Việt Nam renowned for lacquer paintings and sketches of President Hồ Chí Minh, passed away in Hà Nội on Sunday. He was 95.
Born on March 20, 1923, in Mông Phụ Village, Đường Lâm District on the outskirts of Hà Nội, An attended École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine, presently known as the University of Fine Arts. He was one of the first members of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association since 1957.
An created paintings in various styles and mastered many materials, particularly lacquer and oil. His works portrayed reality, focusing on Việt Nam’s army leaders, resistance wars and daily activities of ethnic minorities living in the mountainous areas and lowlands in northern Việt Nam.
An’s paintings have been highly appreciated by art experts. During his career, he received many State awards, including first-rate Resistance War Medal, Arts Devotion medal and State Awards for Literature and Arts in 2001.
His most famous work is Nhớ Một Chiều Tây Bắc, a lacquer painting made in the winter of 1950, when the artist joined the resistance war as a special envoy of the Sự Thật (Truth) newspaper. The painting inspired poet Đoàn Việt Bắc to write a famous poem with the same title, which was also set to music by song composer Vũ Thanh. The painting is on display at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum.
An was the first artist assigned to sketch President Hồ Chí Minh’s portrait in 1948. Later, he created more than 200 sketches of the president while he was alive, many of which were published in Sự Thật.
Other renowned Vietnamese, such as writers Nguyên Hồng and Nguyễn Công Hoan and poet Thế Lữ also had their portraits made by An.
An was a caricaturist too. He used to collaborate with newspapers such as Sự Thật and Nhân Dân (People) under the penname Phan Kích. — VNS