Senior painter Chu Mạnh Chấn is seen next to one of his works. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Fine Arts Museum
HÀ NỘI — The memories of the people, landscapes and cultural heritage of the former province of Sơn Tây, now in the west of greater Hà Nội will be revived via works by 90-year-old painter Chu Mạnh Chấn on display at the Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum.
Entitled Miền Ký Ức (Land of Memories), the exhibition features 30 works, most of which are lacquer and water colour paintings like Ca Trù (Ceremonial Singing), Chùa Tây Phương (Tây Phương Pagoda) and Cổng Làng (Village Gate).
Land of Memories exhibition introduces to public the large lacquer painting entitled Hội Chùa Thầy by Chu Mạnh Chấn. Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum
The exhibition also includes the 4m x 2.5m lacquer painting entitled Hội Chùa Thầy (Thầy Pagoda Festival) that vividly portrays the atmosphere of the biggest festival in ancient Đoài Village with pilgrims and traditional games in the background of a charming mountainous area.
A collector reportedly offered VNĐ5 billion (US$217,000) for the painting but Chấn refused to sell it.
Speaking at his first solo exhibition, Chấn said his paintings were inspired by his memories of his hometown from adolescence to adulthood and until now.
“They are the sentiment, profound spiritual morality and the life force nourishing my soul, and also the desire to continue the tradition of my family and homeland.
“I want to retain all that sentiment. Now I understand that traditions and human affection must always be respected and preserved. That’s why I’m constantly trying to manifest what the elderly have told me into paintings, which has given me more affection for my homeland, more strength and more passion to forget ageing and hardships. I have retained my childhood memories that will never fade," the painter said.
According to poet and painter Nguyễn Quang Thiều, Chấn is one of the revivers of forgotten Vietnamese cultural beauty.
“The paintings portraying the past, demonstrated by means of traditional lacquer techniques, have empowered Chấn to revive ancient beauty in modern life,” he said.
Chấn was born in 1933 in Chàng Sơn Village, Thạch Thất District on the outskirts of Hà Nội. He used to work as a lecturer at the Hà Tây School of Fine Arts, specialising in creating models in mosaic, lacquer, bamboo and rattan for artisans in craft villages.
In 2020, Chấn was honoured with the title of 'People's Artist' for his contribution to traditional crafts.
Besides designing and teaching applied art, Chấn is also a lacquer painter. He has painted many works about his hometown showcasing its charming poetic scenery and traditional festivals.
The exhibition is open until the end of April 3. VNS