Hanoi show casts light on darker, lighter shades of migrant lives

By Thuy Anh, Bao Ngoc    March 4, 2019 | 02:31 pm GMT+7

Two artists have managed to capture the angst, vulnerability and romance of rural-urban migration, and vice versa, in Vietnam.

The exhibition, titled "Em chao cac bac" (Hello everyone), showcases works by Doan Xuan Tung and Nguyen Nghia Cuong on urban and rural migration.

Open February 20-March 12 at the VICAS Art Studio on  32 Hao Nam street, the exhibition captures different facets of migration from rural to urban areas and vice versa.

Doan Xuan Tung is a young artist born in the countryside who now lives in Hanoi, the capital city. His paintings reflect the difficulties, struggle and longings of poor workers in the city. In the bustling city, the migrants have to struggle to maintain their position, whether in a crowded bus or a shared rented accommodation.

The artist depicts their temporary, sketchy shelters with images of tainted toilets or sinks, and the familiar scenes of public buses jam-packed with people.

The feelings of the migrants are also demonstrated in the pictures that reveal their timidity and fear.

A set of pictures, named Em chao cac bac (Hello everyone), depict immigrants from the countryside into the city. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Anh

"Em chao cac bac" (Hello everyone), depicts different reactions of migrants from the countryside into the city. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Anh

Talking about one of his paintings Em chao cac bac (Hello everyone), which has four frames, Tung says: "Three people in this set of pictures wear masks to avoid dealing with their real life. One person sits in a reserved posture, showing the shyness and timidity of a person who comes from the countryside to the city." 

The paintings also show the poor workers’ secret aspirations for the sparkling city, symbolized by a beautiful woman they want to approach but cannot.

Tung took five years to compile this collection. Most of his paintings in the exhibition use old newspaper cuttings. The newspaper headlines used mostly convey negative content about urban life.

The newspaper pages used in the paintings spoke of the reality at the time the paintings were being created, said Tung.

A picture by Doan Xuan Tung, in which he uses pieces of old newspaper pages in the background. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Anh

A painting by Doan Xuan Tung that uses old newspaper pages for its background. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Anh

The picture collection of Doan Xuan Tung was painted in five years with acrylic color. Most of his paintings in the exhibition are made from old newspaper pages. The newspaper headlines, which mostly convey negative content about urban life, were carefully cut from the original pages and pasted to the painting.

The newspaper’s page used in the paintings delivered the reality at the time the paintings were created, said Tung.

Meanwhile, artist Nguyen Nghia Cuong conveys a contrasting scene. Cuong, who spent many years working in the city, has now moved to live in the countryside.

The picture titled Lady by Nguyen Nghia Cuong. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Anh 

"Lady" by Nguyen Nghia Cuong. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy Anh

Meanwhile, artist Nguyen Nghia Cuong, presents a contrast to Tung’s work. Cuong, who spent many years working in the city, has now moved to live in the countryside.

His paintings show the romantic side of a rural lifestyle, while depicting real life in the city with humor and sarcasm.

In several paintings, Cuong includes the image of beautiful women to show the aspirations of men from the countryside. Several paintings show the idyllic landscapes of rural Vietnam. 

The name of the exhibition is a greeting phrase, which is either from a person saying hello to the new city, or saying goodbye before they depart to the rural area.

The art works created with different materials, sizes and layouts, together take a journey from the countryside to the city and vice versa.

The exhibition captures the opposite but interwoven, contrasting living environments and cultural clashes that take place, hidden and obvious, in Vietnam’s rural-urban migration phenomenon.

 
 
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