When soldier artists have a brush with war

By Kieu Duong   December 24, 2019 | 12:53 pm GMT+7

The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi is presenting a record of the wars that the country has fought for national freedom through the eyes of soldier artists.

The painting above is one of the works showcased at a Vietnam Fine Arts Museum exhibition that marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnam Peoples Army on December 22, 1944.It also commemorates the 30th anniversary of the founding of the National Peoples National Defense Day on December 22, 1989.The painting Preserving the ship, created by Colonel and artist Bang Lam in 1985, depicts the navies conduct cleaning and maintenance work on the dock in the morning. The final version was the result of four years of sketching between 1972 and 1975.Bang Lam submitted his work in 1985 when art competition with an armed forces theme took place, for which he won a bronze medal at the National Fine Arts Prize.The museum bought the painting after that.  I am very moved because it has been more than 30 years since I last saw this work. I feel like Ive just met a child who just came back from a long trip, artist Bang Lam said.

This painting is one of the works showcased at an exhibition that marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnam People's Army on December 22, 1944. The display will remain open until Friday.

"Preserving the ship" is a work by Colonel Bang Lam in 1985. It depicts the naval cadres carrying out cleaning and maintenance work on the dock in the morning. The final version was the result of four years of sketching between 1972 and 1975.

Bang Lam submitted his work in 1985 when an art competition was held with an armed forces theme. He won third place in the National Fine Arts competition. The museum bought the painting later.  

Lacquer painting To the island by artist Nguyen Van Ty was finished in 1970. Ty is the teacher of many generations of painters, who was also the first General Secretary of Vietnam Fine Arts Association. His lacquer painting is highly regarded for his brilliant use of the material.

"To the island," a lacquer work by Nguyen Van Ty, was finished in 1970. Ty, the first general secretary of Vietnam Fine Arts Association, has taught many generations of painters. His lacquer painting is highly regarded for his brilliant use of materials.

A close-up look at Ty’s work.  His imagination of the sea was portrayed using the combination of paint, oyster shells, eggshells which are the typical materials of Vietnamese lacquer art. The artists meticulousness is shown by his careful selection of one-centimeter mosaic pieces with a tinge of the ocean blue.

A close-up look at Ty’s work which uses a combination of paint, oyster shells, eggshells, typical materials used in Vietnamese lacquer art, to portray the sea. The artist's meticulousness is shown in the careful selection of one-centimeter mosaic pieces with a tinge of ocean blue.

From the people by artist Quang Tho was finished in 1980 is chosen to the central work of the museum exhibition’s theme. According to art experts, it has an impressive shaping of the subjects with broad meaning, showing the spirit of solidarity of many generations and many peoples army forces.

"From the people" by Quang Tho was finished in 1980. It has been chosen as the central work of the exhibition’s theme. Art experts say the painting has an impressive shaping of the subjects which shows the spirit of solidarity of many generations and armed forces.

The sculpture of a soldier by artist Nguyen Thi Kim is an amalgam of oil paint, lacquer, silk, wood, and soil.

The sculpture of a soldier by artist Nguyen Thi Kim is an amalgam of oil paint, lacquer, silk, wood, and clay.

The silk-made Border guards by artist Phan Ke An was also finished in 1980. Nguyen Anh Minh, director of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, said the artists were also participating in the war which helped them depict what life was like at war and in turns gave definition to part of Vietnamese art history.The exhibition is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the history of the Vietnamese Peoples Army, he said.

"Border guards" on silk by Phan Ke An was finished in 1980.

Nguyen Anh Minh, director of Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, said many artists participated in the war, which helped them depict what life was like on the battlefield and in turn, gave definition to a significant part of Vietnam's art history.

"The exhibition is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the history of the Vietnamese People's Army," he said.

Crossing the River by artist Le Tri Dung was inspired by the words of the late General Vo Nguyen Giap who served in both the French resistance war and the Vietnam War who once said: Our army, the offspring of the People, is heroic. They come from the people, they are protected, cared for, and loved by the people - our army has fulfilled and is determined to continue to fulfill all the heavy and glorious tasks entrusted by the People and the Party.

"Crossing the River" by Le Tri Dung was inspired by the words of the late General Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnam’s legendary military leader who led the Vietnam People’s Army to victory against the colonial French and imperial Americans.

Giap said: "Our army, the offspring of the People, is heroic. They come from the people, they are protected, cared for, and loved by the people - our army has fulfilled and is determined to continue to fulfill all the heavy and glorious tasks entrusted by the People and the Party."

Memory of the lights by painter Le Anh Van, former Rector of Vietnam Fine Arts University zeroes in the support soldiers received on the home front from mothers, loved ones and children.The light held up by the female soldier and others reflects their desire for victory and hope to build the future of the country.Moonlight casts the scene which, according to the painter, reflects the wartime romance and that the journey was being watched by the universe. Bomb craters and holes created by bombs fill the background.

"Memory of the lights" by Le Anh Van, former principal of Vietnam Fine Arts University, zeroes in on the support soldiers received on the home front from mothers, loved ones and children.

The light held up by the female soldier and others in what appears to be a trench reflects their desire for victory and hope to build the future of the country, the artist said.

Moonlight cast on the scene reflects "wartime romance" and that the journey is being watched by the universe, he added.

[Painter Giang Khich, who used to serve in the army stands next to a self-portrait called 20. The author said he painted himself to portray the typical image of border guards who dedicated their youth to protecting sovereignty.

Giang Khich, who used to serve in the army, stands next to a self-portrait called "20". The author said he painted himself to portray the typical image of border guards who dedicated their youth to protecting national sovereignty.

One of the exhibition goers, Nathan Felde, Professor of Design at Northeastern University in the US commented on the abundance of Vietnamese artists’ ideas. He noticed that they also use materials similar to American artists like oil paint, water colors, and pigments. The professor said most Americans only know about the Vietnam War through photos rather than the art, so the exhibition gives him a different perspective on the war.

Nathan Felde, Professor of Design at Northeastern University in the U.S., commented on the abundance of ideas among Vietnamese artists. The professor said most Americans only know about the Vietnam War through photos rather than art, so the exhibition gave him a different perspective on the war.

The exhibition opened on Thursday and ends on December 27. There is no admission free, but a ticket to other regular exhibitions at the museum costs VND40,000 ($1.8) for adults and half of them for students.

There is no admission free, but a ticket to other regular exhibitions at the museum at 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Ba Dinh District costs VND40,000 ($1.7). 

 
 
go to top