Hair-raising artworks a cut above the rest

March 31, 2024 - 08:28
Hoàng Kim Tuyến uses the actual human hair he cuts to make amazing images.

Minh Phương

(Additional reporting by Lê Hương)

There are many different types of materials that artists use to create their masterpieces, but one hairstylist’s work is a cut above the rest.

Hoàng Kim Tuyến uses the actual human hair he cuts to make amazing images.

“I’m a hairstylist, and I've noticed that no one in the country has ever used human hair to create pictures, so I decided to try it," said Tuyến.

Tuyến used to be a student of the Hà Nội University of Industrial Fine Arts. But to make a living, he had to drop out and take up hairdressing. However, the passion for art still runs in his blood. He has combined his current job with his passion, and the results are remarkable.

“I was a student at the University of Industrial Fine Arts, but I couldn’t complete my studies there due to certain circumstances, but my love for painting remained," he said.

“That's why I mix my hairdressing skills with painting to create works of art. It's putting two things I love together.”

Hairstylist Hoàng Kim Tuyến uses the actual hair he cuts to create amazing images. VNS Photo Minh Phương

About 10 years ago, Tuyến had the idea of making pictures with hair. The images were initially just drawn on the ground, and were later deleted because they could not be preserved.

Now the hairdresser sprinkles strands and clippings (collected during work) on a white cardboard canvas, taking some hours to arrange them into striking images of famous figures or landscapes, and fixing them with glue. He had to learn and research about hair glue himself.

The pictures can now endure over time and are not affected by weather conditions. The chosen hair must be free of chemicals to achieve the light and dark contrasts in his pictures.

“Using human hair to make pictures is a new practice in Viêt Nam, and there are few guides on how to use it well. So, I have to figure it out by myself, learning from what I've done before," Tuyến said.

DETAILED: Hair clippings are arranged into a picture.

“Hair strands and clippings are very light and could easily blow off. Cutting them into smaller pieces makes them even trickier to work with because it can be affected by the wind and change the images when glue is used. That's why I keep learning and finding my own way to work with it.”

He now has more than 50 'hair pictures', and half of them depict scenic spots of Hải Phòng, the port city of his childhood.

Tuyến has also been honoured by the Vietnamese Record's Association for creating the largest collection of hair pictures featuring old and modern images of Hải Phòng.

“These pictures capture famous streets of Hải Phòng where I was born. All the places in my pictures will evoke memories about the city," Tuyến said.

The 'hair picture' (left) depicts the Bính Bridge in Hải Phòng. VNS Photo Minh Phương

Vũ Ngoạn Minh, the secretary of the Artists Association of Hải Phòng, has praised Tuyến for his pioneering new forms of art in the country.

“Tuyến's pictures remind elderly people how Hải Phòng used to look. The city has changed a lot, and now the old images of the city only exist in people's memories," Minh said.

The artwork not only brings joy to Tuyến, but also contributes to his charity efforts. Many of his pictures are donated and auctioned at charity events to support young hair stylist talents or to fund the construction of schools in the mountainous province of Hà Giang.

“I’m planning to host an exhibition, entitled 'Hải Phòng: Past and Present', featuring about 30 pictures depicting architecture and renowned landmarks of Hải Phòng," Tuyến said.

“I also aspire to establish a gallery to showcase portraits of the famous. I am aiming for it to provide vocational training and employment opportunities for disabled people who share a passion for making art. It will help them secure jobs and ensure a stable income.” VNS