February 22, 2019 | 08:45 pm GMT+7

Trump, Kim portraits portray aspiration for peace: Vietnamese artist

Trump, Kim portraits portray aspiration for peace: Vietnamese artist
Tran Lam Binh was painting a portrait of Kim Jong-un. Photo by Ione

Tran Lam Binh began painting portraits of Trump and Kim on learning that their meeting could be held in Vietnam. 

In an exposed brick-wall café in Hanoi, Binh is busy with his brush and messy palette, adjusting details on around ten colorful paintings placed around him.

Binh, 37, is a freelance painter. He has been working on a series of portraits of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a project he began as soon as it was announced that their second summit would be held in Hanoi.

"I hope to invite the two leaders here and gift them my paintings," Binh said with a smile.

Binh, who started working nearly two weeks ago, expects to complete around 60 paintings by the summit on February 27-28.

He said he was excited when he heard about the summit.

"I want to mark a historical moment, as I am here to witness this summit as it happens," Binh said. "For this, the paintings would have historical value."

Binh has done nearly 50 paintings of U.S president Donald Trump, and later 45 others of other presidents. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngoc

Binh has done nearly 50 paintings of U.S president Donald Trump, and later 45 others of other presidents. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngoc

The paintings, which use striking colors in a pop art style, convey the signature look of the two political leaders.

In most pictures, the leaders’ faces beam with happy smiles.

"I decide to give the paintings a positive vibe to express hopes for the best outcomes from the summit," Binh said.

The artist has added heart shapes, images of animals and natural scenery to the pictures.

Influenced by influencers

Binh has long nurtured an interest in portraying world influencers.

Born in a rural village in the central province of Quang Binh, Binh used to sculpt statues of political leaders and folk heroes since childhood, using clay.

To date, he has done nearly 50 paintings of U.S president Donald Trump, and later 45 others of other presidents.

"I admire the influencers for their unique views ...," Binh said.

Binh has been particularly interested in the latest U.S president.

He painted 30 portraits of Donald Trump from 2015 to 2017, some of which were displayed on the pavements outside the White House.

"I like Donald Trump for his humor and the reckless part inside him," Binh explained, proudly showing a photo of his 2-meter painting of Trump in his phone. 

Besides the intention of gifting the paintings to Trump and Kim, Binh plans to exhibit them during the summit days.

"If they refuse my gift, I would just place them here in this café," said Binh, casting a quick glance at the long tubular house that hosts the café.

On the walls and beams of the house, other large sized paints paintings are hung.

A picture of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngoc 

A picture of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Ngoc 

Two years ago, he finished 20 paintings of Trump as a freelance project he did with a friend named Hung. Since Binh did not get his visa on time, Hung took the frames along for displaying the paintings outside the White House. They went through a lot of hardship and spent a lot of money for it.

They wanted to present the paintings to congratulate Trump on his birthday in June 2017. But they only managed to place the pictures there for a day, after Hung got permission from security staff.

"It is definitely good if many people get to know my paintings, but I would work without any attention. An artist can only attract an audience with his paintings."

Binh said he has no intention of selling the paintings, but was willing to auction them for charity.

"I started out my project on my own and I will not sell them."

Bao Ngoc