Vy Quynh

From October 6th to 14th, the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi will host an exhibition devoted to the late artist Nguyen Van Giao

Uncle Ho visits people in Thach Bich Village - Gouache (1989)

The late artist Nguyen Van Giao (1916-1996) is respected for the diversity of his works, which captured Vietnam’s natural scenery, historic occasions, and the ordinary lives of Vietnamese people. People of all ages can appreciate important moments in the nation’s history when gazing upon his artworks. This is his legacy.

Mr. Van Giao’s works capture the beauty of Vietnam’s diverse landscapes from North to South. He spent his career traveling, painting and exhibiting his creations. His style was realistic, but enriched with revolutionary and romantic influences. Few artists could rival his skill at capturing light. Revealing his personal experiences, his works highlight his love of beautiful landscapes, glowing light and passionate colors. His works captured familiar scenes at different moments – at dawn, at noon on a summer’s day, at sunset, or even in the dark of the night. While his work “The Temple of Literature” captures the lively light of midday, “The Uncle stays awake this night” depicts Uncle Ho’s stilt house at night, giving us a cozy feeling thanks to the shining light of a kerosene lamp. This profoundly romantic painting leaves an impression of Uncle Ho’s subtle spirit shining in the night.

“Land reclaimation – Dien Bien Phu” – Gouache (1960)

  While Mr. Van Giao had a gift for landscape paintings, his portraits of President Ho Chi Minh reveal a passion that occupied more than 30 years of his life. While many artists painted President Ho, Mr. Van Giao was one of the first to depict him in the midst of the revolutionary spirit overtaking Hanoi, as it happened. A candid and devoted man, he had deep respect and adoration for President Ho. Having met the President only once, Uncle Ho became a driving inspiration for the rest of Mr. Van Giao’s life.

Each material has its own colors and creates different feelings. Mr. Van Giao will always be associated with powdered paint, just as Nguyen Van Chanh is linked with silk paintings and Nguyen Gia Tri with lacquer. A real artist knows that all materials are equal, with none being “easier” or “harder” to master.

“An Khe – Vinh Thanh Battlefield” – Gouache (1947)

Mr. Van Giao accompanied his nation through two major wars. He picked up his brushes to capture historic moments, devoting his whole heart to art, the nation and its people. The richness of his creations attest to the endless and ever-changing flow of history. Each work is a true story about his fatherland, a verdict about the brutal wars to regain national independence, or a portrait of the common people – or President Ho Chi Minh. With his emotionally direct style and unnerving dedication, this artist traversed all places to capture invaluable moments.

 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Nguyen Van Giao’s birth and the 20th anniversary of his death. As an offering to Mr. Van Giao and the nation’s art lovers, his family have painstakingly collected his works to stage an exhibition titled “Van Giao and the journey”.