Changing Phases of Vietnamese Art

The evolution of Vietnamese art is a relatively modern event in history. From its inception in 1925, and up till 1945, the epoch of the history of Vietnamese painting coincides with the history of the Fine Arts College of Indochina (FACI), which is the cradle of the huge wave of revolution in the field of Vietnamese art. trường đại học việt nam

It were the pioneering works of Victor Tardieu (1870-1937) and Josheph Inguimberty (1896-1971) that led to the flowering of the new tradition called the Vietnamese art.

A genius in oil paintings, Victor Tardieu had a keen knowledge of Oriental art. His paintings were simple yet tasteful, reflecting a sense of space. While some of the later Vietnam artists like Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam, Le Thi Luu were influenced by Tardieu; Ngoc Van, Nguyen Gia Tri, Tran Van Can, Luu Van Sin devoted themselves to Inguimberty. Prior to the establishment of he FACI, the Vietnamese art was not heading to any particular direction. It was the foundation of this institution that taught the future artists the conception of the Beautiful. Within a brief period of twenty years, Vietnamese painters were on the lookout for a model in ancient or modern times, in West or East. In no time were they familiar with all the growing trends in the history of modern art and literature. Be it fauvism, cubism, abstractionism, surrealism, expressionism, symbolism, or futurism, Vietnamese art began absorbing all the characteristics of these major modern trends.

The Vietnam Revolution contributed much to the growth of Vietnamese art. The contemporary Vietnam artists stood for the cause of the revolution (1945), and voiced their grievances through works of art. A movement among the artists to support the Viet Minh gained ground in Hanoi with uncommon speed. The national exhibition solemnly organized at the Municipal Theater of Hanoi in August 1946 gathered the works of various genres by the patriotic artists of Vietnam: oil painting, pumice lacquer, gouache, water color, wood cutting, most of them treating subjects relating to the struggle of Vietnam for a new life. In 1948, after three years of war, the second national exhibition of fine arts was organized in a forest of palm trees (Xuan Ang village, Phu Tho province) with about 100 pictures, including silks, wood engravings, and propaganda drawings. The Third Exhibition was organized in Chiem Hoa, on the occasion of the anniversary of the day of national resistance.

The Vietnamese painters offered their support whole-heartedly for nine years against their enemy. With revolutionary optimism and confidence as their spurs, the Vietnam artists flew high on their quest for freedom and were ultimately victorious in directing their art to the service of their fatherland.

With the success of the revolution in 1954, the 5th National Exhibition of Fine Arts was organized at the municipal theatre of Hanoi. This also provided an opportunity to review the artistic works of those who had expressed their feelings in canvas during the resistance war. The loss of To Ngoc Van, during the revolution, was too great for the Vietnamese painting to compensate. The Fine Arts College of Vietnam experienced a change in authority under Tran Van Can. After 1975, the National Fine Arts College of Saigon merged with the National Decorative Arts School of Gia Dinh to become the Fine Arts College of Ho Chi Minh City, now the Fine Arts University of Ho Chi Minh City.

After the phase of upheaval in the history of Vietnamese art, there have been some brilliant efforts of revival in recent times. A new breed of modern Vietnam artists have started embracing new themes centered on man in different situations. A good amount of credit also goes to the French and Italian painters who have inspired these artists to draw inspiration from the daily humdrum of human life. Vietnamese art has thus marched forward towards a progressive realism and has allowed the spectators to identity the work of art with their lives.

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