Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — More than 70 works by noted artist Nguyễn Sỹ Ngọc (1918-90), a typical painter of the socialist realism trend of Vietnamese modern fine arts, are on display at the Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum.
The works range from large lacquer paintings to small illustration sketches printed on newspapers.
The exhibition aims to celebrate Ngọc’s 100th birthday.
According to critic Nguyễn Quân, Ngọc was among artists with rare aesthetic taste.
“He believes in realism more than any other abstract notions,” Quân said. “In his paintings, viewers can see real people: strong workers, simple farmers, charming women… The people in his paintings have become model characters for paintings of his time.”
Quân appreciated works by Ngọc on various materials.
“Each work is a historic treasure itself,” he said.
Ngọc was among the best students studying at the Indochina College of Fine Arts (1939-44).
“His female characters are neither poetically-inspired, nor romantic, nor really perfect,” said Quân. “They are, instead, always real flesh and blood people.”
“Ngọc’s aesthetic appreciation differs from that of his predecessors, similar to the way that Courbet’s aesthetic concepts differed from both romanticism and impressionism,” he added. “This highlights the most important contribution of Ngọc in shaping the aesthetics of fine arts in Việt Nam in the mid-20th century.”
Painter Lương Xuân Đoàn showed his admiration for Ngọc’s illustration paintings for short stories printed on newspaper.
“Together with other colleagues like Bùi Xuân Phái, Nguyễn Sáng, Nguyễn Tư Nghiêm, Văn Cao, Nguyễn Văn Tỵ, Dương Bích Liên, Mai Văn Hiến… painter Nguyễn Sỹ Ngọc has made considerable contributions to the art of illustration on newspapers in Việt Nam between the 1950s and 1980s,” Đoàn said.
“He reads widely, understands life, people,” he said. “He just needs some sudden and sharp strokes to feature the main contents of the stories. His illustrations are like historical paintings in the whole Great History by paintings of Vietnamese Literature and Arts.”
Between 1945 and 1954, Ngọc joined the August Revolution and drew posters for the Việt Minh. He then worked as one of the first lecturers of the Việt Nam University of Fine Arts.
He has been awarded various honours by the State like the third grade Independence Medal and the third grade Labour Medal.
Ten years after he died in 2000, he was awarded the Hồ Chí Minh Prize in Literature and Arts for his group of four lacquer paintings on soldiers and people during the wars he painted between 1949 and 1980.
His exhibition is running at the museum on 66 Nguyễn Thái Học Street, till December 30. — VNS