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Bark paper drawings enliven Hanoi coffee shop

By Trung Nghia, Chi Tu   May 18, 2021 | 04:00 am PT
For those interested in the art of "dó" paintings, which are made from "dó" tree bark, a small café on Hanoi’s Ly Quoc Su Street is just the joint.
Located at 25A on Ly Quoc Su Street, only about 150 meters from Hanois St. Josephs Cathedral, Do Cafe & Art stands out with its elegant sepia color. At first glance, the cafe looks like a gallery. This coffee shop not only serves guests with signature drinks like egg coffee but also displays paintings drawn on Do (Poonah) papers, which has been widely used in Vietnam’s famous Dong Ho and Hang Trong folk paintings.

Dó Cafe & Art at 25A Ly Quoc Su Street, about 150 meters from Hanoi's St. Joseph's Cathedral, stands out for its elegant sepia color. While serving signature drinks like egg coffee, the cafe displays drawings on paper, widely used in Vietnam’s famous Dong Ho and Hang Trong folk arts. The paper is made from the bark of tree (Rhamnoneuron balansae), which is native to northern Vietnam.

Thu Hang, the cafes owner, said that the shop was named Do after her interest and preference for do paperm the type of paper used for painting in Vietnamese folk art. Do paper, which comes from the bark of poonah trees in northern provinces of Vietnam, has long been used for painting or writing, as seen in renowned folklore paintings, calligraphy and documents from past dynasties and family annals.

Owner Thu Hang explained paper had long been used in renowned folklore paintings, calligraphy and documents from past dynasties and family annals.

These paintings on do paper at the shop do not belong to folk art but the modern art school, drawn by painters Ngo Thi Phuong Binh and Dinh Y Nhi. What makes the female owner passionate about this paper material is because it bears the typical Vietnamese imprint and needs a certain meticulousness. Drawing on do paper requires high technique and care, because the paper is very thin and easy to be torn, said Hang.

Works on display include modern art created by painters Ngo Thi Phuong Binh and Dinh Y Nhi. Hang is particularly passionate about the paper for its typical Vietnamese imprint and need for meticulousness.
"Drawing onpaper requires great technique and care, since it is very thin and easily torn," said Hang.

Each painting has its own story and guests can drink coffee while enjoying them.In the picture is a painting by artist Ngo Thi Phuong Binh, with the image of a man’s face assembled from countless women’s bodies. Hang shared, the number of paintings at the shop will increase in the future and the way the paintings are displayed at the shop will change after a certain period of time.

Artist Ngo Thi Phuong Binh’s work features the image of a man’s face assembled from countless female bodies. Hang said the number of paintings would increase in future, along with the style of display.

The shop consists of 3 floors. In addition to do paper paintings, the shop also displays collections of oil paintings and sculptures. The second floor í sfavored by many customers with a balcony with a view of Ly Quoc Su Street, home to the capitals signature food stalls.

The shop consists of three floors. In addition to paper art, it also features collections of oil paintings and sculptures.
The second floor ís favored by many customers for its balcony with a view of Ly Quoc Su Street, home to the capital's signature food stalls.

Drinks of the coffee shop costs from VND30,000 to 70,000, inclusing chocolate layer and espresso egg coffee.The only minus point of the restaurant is that there is not much parking space.

Drinks cost from VND30,000 to 70,000 ($1.30-3.04).
The only minus is the café’s lack of parking space.

Inside the shop, there are two plates drawn by the late writer Nguyen Huy Thiep who presented them to the owner.

Two plates decorated by late writer Nguyen Huy Thiep who presented them to the owner. The plate on the right, featuring a mouse gifting a cat a fish, celebrates the Year of the Mouse in 2020, while the other plate decorates Thiep's famous work "The Retired General."

 
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