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Exhibition shows shades of traditional lacquer art

Update: July, 26/2019 - 09:16


Kitten Girls, by Nguyễn Vĩnh Thịnh, 70cm by 90cm, 2019.

HÀ NỘI — Thirty artworks by Bùi Quang Thắng and Nguyễn Vĩnh Thịnh depicting different shades of traditional art are on display at an exhibition titled Vóc & Dáng (Lacquer panel and Posture) in Hà Nội.

Thắng, director of the Việt Nam National Institute of Arts and Culture Studies (VICAS) Art Studio, is an experienced painter, specialising in carved lacquer while young artist Thịnh follows traditional lacquer techniques. Both of them use lacquer panels as the foundation for the artworks.


Moon by Bùi Quang Thắng, 100cm by 100cm, 2018.

Thắng carves shapes onto the lacquer panel then paints on the surface, while Thịnh paints on lacquer panels or, sometimes, canvas. He follows the steps of traditional lacquer art such as forming; inlaying gold and silver leaves, eggshells and mother of pearl; sanding; shining and polishing.

“Some people consider lacquer panels as the material for a lacquer artwork, like paper, canvas and silk, while some people value it as an inseparable part that constitutes the quality of artworks,” said Thắng.

“To me, wooden lacquer panels play a decisive role in making a perfect lacquer painting, and if I don’t have a good panel, I don’t want to paint.”

“In an effort to modernise lacquer art, many artists have tried to reduce the weight of wooden panels, change the graphic style and renovate the colours used in lacquer,” said Thắng.

“I highly appreciate that effort, because lacquer plays a role as Vietnamese cultural identity in contemporary fine arts.”

While Thắng stays loyal to traditional slender, shy and discreet postures, Thịnh shows a different social and aesthetic view on modern women. Thắng’s paintings include the romantic love that seems to echo from the old days. Thịnh’s paintings evoke rapid rhythms and more fiercely sensual emotions of today’s love.

“We started with traditional lacquer and wanted to develop it to adapt to the new era. We are not all conservative and are willing to change painting materials, to change the way of shaping and drawing to have contemporary feelings,” said Thắng. “That is our contribution to the development of Vietnamese lacquer art in the context of contemporary fine arts.”

The exhibition will run until August 11 at VICAS Art Studio, 32 Hào Nam Street, Hà Nội. — VNS

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