Vietnamart Art

The Evolution of Vietnamese Art (Part III)

1954 – 1995
From socialist realism to after-war multiform tendency
(source: Quang Phong)

Peace time started in 1954. At the moment of victory, only about 30 to 40 painters from all parts of the country returned to Hanoi. The Fine Arts College of Vietnam was set up to train new painters under the direction of Tran Van Can. This first batch of painters has continued to make up the framework of Vietnamese painting until today. They inherited, preserved and developed the fine traditions of Vietnamese realism.

In the meantime, on 31 December 1954, painter Le Van De set up the National Fine Arts College of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with some of those graduated from the Fine Arts College of Indochina.

In 1957, under the instruction of the then Prime Minister, the Fine Arts College of Vietnam started to introduce degree courses to train artists in painting and sculptures. This College was set up under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. On 29 January 1981, the Fine Arts College of Vietnam was transformed into the Fine Arts University of Hanoi.

From 1946 to 1975, Vietnamese paintings depict the characteristics of a country having undergone 30 years of struggle and experienced different stages: resistance, half-war half-peace, pervasive war country-wide and finally, total victory, unification and independence. It is noticeable that there had been no tranquility to paint nudes or still life, not even a romantic landscape.

Over the next 2 decades, in the 1970s and 1980s, many oil painters had chosen pumice lacquer or silk painting - this resulted in no significant breakthroughs in oil paintings from the first years after restoration of peace. In 1980, a review of the artistic values of the ancient painting made its appearance in Hanoi. In explaining the new trend in painting, external factors must be considered; the socio-economic development, the upheaval of global relations in the “open-doors” period, technological advancements, etc, exert a marked influence on the old customs. This, again, is not dissimilar to the modern tendencies of European art at the beginning of this century, in particular the group of Nabis which plead for a general tendency to a decorative mode with some rules: simplification, variation and going towards symbolization. Some are based on the conception of purely decorative aesthetics to make paintings according to the fundamental principals regarding the use of colours and composition.

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