Artist takes pen and ink drawing to next level

September, 26/2021 - 07:12

Despite having won prestigious prizes and many artworks displayed at exhibitions around the world, painter Nguyễn Đức Hùng does not see himself as a famous person but an art lover who “steps into imaginative worlds” in his own paintings.


Not only a talented artist, Nguyễn Đức Hùng is also a lecturer at Hà Nội University of Architecture. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Đức Hùng

Despite having won prestigious prizes and many artworks displayed at exhibitions around the world, painter Nguyễn Đức Hùng does not see himself as a famous person but an art lover who “steps into imaginative worlds” in his own paintings.

During 16 years of ups-and-downs trying many different genres, Hùng finally discovered his natural talent for drawing with pen and ink after an exhibition in 2013.

Việt Nam News reporter Hoàng Hồ spoke with Hùng about his career and view of art.

Inner Sanctum: When did you first interact with art and how did pen and ink drawing become the path of your career?

I discovered my passion for art when I was just 16. In the past, I had been through all kinds of genres and styles but never really found my forte until joining the “Graphic 2013” exhibition.

At that time, I didn’t have any works that matched the requirements of the exhibition, so I immediately thought of using what I was teaching at the Hà Nội University of Architecture, which was drawing with pen and ink.

Although my pen and ink painting was not really satisfactory, thanks to that I found the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was far from my expectation that the artwork was also the premise for me to follow this genre until now. It’s destiny.

Inner Sanctum: Can you share more about that landmark artwork?

That meaningful work was called "Tree of Life". It is about the hustle and bustle of life, in constant motion for each of us. All those transitions connect to create a person from young to old, from nothing to having and everything that reminds me of a tree.

But this cannot be illustrated in shape; it is a reflection of life. The trees in my work have uncertain precarious roots that are supported above the water, above the arms reaching out as if trying to develop.

On the other hand, the images of clothes symbolise success and purity as if to remind the good part in each of us and advise us of innocence that can lead to a safer, healthier and happier life.

Inner Sanctum: What does it take to become a good pen and ink artist?

To have excellent work, especially on a surface like paper, the artist must be persistent, careful and highly focused, because a little mistake cannot be fixed by an eraser, and the painter may have to change the paper and start over.

If you want to create a bold part, it needs so many levels of dark and light and layered lines of different densities. The special thing about this pen and ink drawing material is to show viewers the fascinating thrill in each pen stroke. Those large and small pen strokes intertwine together to create the painting and tell the story that the artist wants to express.


“Tree of life”: Drawing with pen and ink on paper was the eureka moment that helped Hùng redefine his genre. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Đức Hùng

Inner Sanctum: So, what is the creativity and difference in your works compared to other traditional pen and ink drawings?

The big difference lays in the details and density of the line layers. Normally, a painter uses pen and ink when they want to draw a quick sketch with deep description in the strokes. Usually, when drawing a detailed sketch, they just overlay a few layers of lines to create depth. When it comes to me, I use dozens of layers so sometimes it takes a few months to finish a work.

They also only use one type of pen, nib and ink, and often draw on small paper. For me, I draw on larger paper, on other materials such as wood and cloth. I even glue the paper on other objects such as aluminium trays or combine them with smoke and lamp soot to have a different surface and then draw on covered surfaces.

When drawing, I use various kinds of nib, from large to small, to create large, small, thick and thin strokes. I combine black inks that are different in shade to create different levels of black to help express my idea of far and near, distance, light and darkness.

The most important thing is to express my view, my opinion, through art. I also always try to find the most optimal expression methods using pen and ink to contribute to making this genre attractive in the eyes of art connoisseurs.

Inner Sanctum: It’s very meticulous. What are your inspiration and artistic views?

Since I found my path, I have no longer been stuck. I think “artwork is the residence of the artist's soul. Through the artist's soul and heart, the world has been illustrated creatively by their artworks.

When I draw, I feel like I'm entering another world -- a world of different dimensions. The more I complete the work, the more I feel part of the painting. When the painting is completed, I return to reality. The journey of creating art for me is an endless journey.

For me, this is only just the beginning. VNS

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