Tuesday, August 4 2020


Satirical paintings of subsidy era on show

Update: August, 18/2018 - 09:00
Visitors at the exhibition. — VNS Photo Minh Thu
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Pictures that were popular in Vietnamese society during the 1975-86 post-war period are on display in the capital at an exhibition titled Nostalgia from the Subsidy Period.

The works come from a book of the same name by painters Nguyễn Thành Phong (Phong Ronin) and Hữu Khoa.

The book launch took place at the exhibition’s opening, organised by the Nhã Nam Culture and Communications Company.

The paintings remind visitors of the subsidy era (between 1975 and 1986), with images of a rusty bike, conical hats, worn out rubber sandals, food coupons and even bricks with people’s names on them that were used to mind a person’s spot while they were queuing for food or fuel during this difficult era.

They depict life in Việt Nam in the late 20th century, with frequently-used sayings and idioms in the subsidy period, as well as shop signboards and children’s songs. Artist Phong, 32, said he wanted his audience, especially young people, to learn more about that time and the positive attitudes that got people through it.

Ngô Trường Giang, a student at the University of Social Science and Humanities, said the event helped him understand more about the important period in the national history.

"Knowing the difficulties of the subsidy era, we are more grateful for what we have in modern times," he said.

While other exhibitions generally reflecting the hardships of the subsidy period through stark images, this exhibition and book take people back to an unique chapter in the history of Việt Nam from a humourous perspective.

It portrays a society in which subsidy and distribution affected every aspect of a particularly difficult daily life, where people only had access to essential items such as face towels, dried fish, floral shorts and a rice ‘checkbook’ – which were all a permanent concern.

What the works demonstrate so well is a sharp and strangely peaceful view on these living conditions that people faced with humour, and sometimes even with a surprising joy.

The exhibition will run until August 31 at the Institut Francais de Hanoi – L’Espace, 24 Tràng Tiền Street. — VNS

The pictorial book Nostalgia from the Subsidy Period. — VNS Photo Minh Thu
In a painting on display at the exhibition, people queue to exchange coupons for goods.

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