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The Evolution of Vietnamese Art (Part II)


1945 – 1954
Fighting for National Salvation
(source: Quang Phong)

Awaken in the face of a new art, Vietnamese painters during 1925 – 1945 experimented and searched for a model in ancient or modern times, western or oriental. Beyond Classicism, they also explored the various Schools of European painting, fauvism, cubism, symbolism, expressionism, surrealism, futurism, abstractionism and many others. What was concluded was that those who could assimilate European painting and had the moral and material conditions would be capable of ensuring the continuation of the national art. To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Gia Tri, Tran Van Can, Nguyen Tien Chung, Luu Van Sin, etc, belong to this class of painters.

In 1945, The Revolution awakened the nationalistic and political consciousness among the Vietnamese painters, leading to a Movement to support Viet Minh in Hanoi. Hundreds of posters created by the artists filled the Municipal Theatre, attacking colonialists, imperialists, their henchmen, feudal mandarins, who exploited and oppressed the people.

A National Exhibition held in August 1946 gathered the works of various genres by the patriotic artists of Vietnam: oil paintings, pumice lacquer, water colours, wood cutting. The main theme was related to the struggle of Vietnam for a new life.

During the 9-year war of resistance against the French colonialism, Vietnamese artists ceaselessly manifested their sense of responsibility towards history. On 19 December 1946, the painters left Hanoi to go to Viet Bac, working in information and press organs, or joining brigades or mobile theatral ensembles to make coloured drawings and organizing exhibitions to appeal the nation to participate in the resistance, increase production and support the battle front.

In 1948, the 2nd National Exhibition was organized in a forest in Phu Tho Province, where about 100 pictures including silk paintings, wood engravings, propaganda drawings were displayed.

The 3rd National Exhibition was organized in 1951 in Chiem Hoa, in commemoration of the anniversary of the day of national resistance and to greet the 2nd National Congress of the Party. The exhibition was expectedly characterized by the exceptional place reserved for posters and political illustrations.

It is evident that most of the painters who had joined in the resistance were motivated by patriotism, not too different from France during the 2nd World War when all true painters such as Amblard, Raslitzky, Fougeron all stood among the “engaged”, living with the people, fighting together with the people until victory. By their works during the beginning of The Revolution and during the resistance, To Ngoc Van and Nguyen Sang will remain in the memory of the future generations.

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