Italian artist inspired by sudden bond, friendship with Việt Nam

November 23, 2017 - 10:23

For Italian painter Laura Federici, the chance to visit Việt Nam and paint in the country was a long-held dream that has now come true.

Like sisters: Laura Federici and Nguyễn Đạm Thủy at their exhibition in HCM City. — Photo courtesy Laura Federici
Viet Nam News

By Minh Thu

HÀ NỘI — For Italian painter Laura Federici, the chance to visit Việt Nam and paint in the country was a long-held dream that has now come true.

Before her trip to Việt Nam, she had only learned of the country through photos. But what she saw was enough to spark fascination.

“I dreamed this trip for years,” she said. “I planned it but I couldn’t come to Việt Nam until I received the invitation from Carlotta Colli, Consul General of Italy in HCM City.”

One house: The two painters take a photo at Thủy’s house. — Photo courtesy Laura Federici

Colli invited her to join a special artists’ residency project this year. She stayed at the house of Nguyễn Đạm Thủy, a local artist, and they worked together for a month and a half.

She accepted the invitation with enthusiasm. For her, it was a special occasion to work in Việt Nam and get to know a working Vietnamese artist.

“I do not like traveling for ‘tourism’,” she said. “I like to travel on business.”

Lifetime opportunity: Laura Federici considered the trip to Việt Nam a dream come true. — Photo courtesy Laura Federici

Federici visited the Mekong Delta, Phú Quốc Island in the southern province of Kiên Giang and Sa Pa Town in the northern province of Lào Cai. Though she didn’t see the entire country, she prefers a slower, more intimate exploration process to cramming many sites into one trip.

Federici didn’t aim to understand the entire country. The simple things charmed her.

“Everyday life, the streets, people, the newspaper, I feel everything with pieces of my heart,” she said. “Việt Nam is a growing country. I perceived the optimism of this change.”

The country’s landscape also impressed her.                                                                            

“I found the nature absolutely overwhelming. I saw a great beauty. But I also perceived the danger that the beauty may be lost,” she said. “The risk exists around the world due to climate change and pollution.”

Artists together: They developed a sister-like bond. — Photo courtesy Laura Federici

Her home 

Federici and HCM City-based artist Nguyễn Đạm Thủy were strangers to each other but quickly developed a connection, becoming close friends who inspired each other in their art work.

“I felt like I staying at my home especially because my daughter is the same age as Thủy’s twins,” she said. “I was welcomed and pampered like an aunt coming from afar; we worked shoulder to shoulder every day.”

Thủy and Federici painted about “home”—a term that encapsulated their own houses, the house they shared together and the Earth, home to everyone. An exhibition of their works was organised in Hà Nội and HCM City last month.

Federici painted what she experienced in Việt Nam and the emotions she encountered in each place she visited.

“I painted nature, water and floating houses in the Mekong Delta region. I have represented daily life in my works, the simple moments of every day, the warm core around which we gather: home.”

Portrait: Painter Nguyễn Đạm Thủy shows a sketch she drew of Laura Federici. — Photo courtesy Laura Federici

She is planning an exhibition in Milan and Rome where she will display the paintings she created in Việt Nam.

Painter Thủy said Federici’s journey took her into the heart of another culture.

“We came to understand each other strangely well when we joined the Home project,” she said. “At some point we became close as sisters.”

Thủy said neither woman spoke English—their only shared language—well, but they communicated with each other through their creations and shared ideas and emotions as they painted.

“Maybe we are women who always respect the idea of ‘home’, and we are concerned with  the environmental issues which influence on the planet – our common house,” Thủy said. — VNS