Vietnamese paintings are vibrant, full of colors, life and movement. Vietnamese artists celebrate life and their quest for everyday happiness, laying onto their canvases a brilliant energy.
Vietnamese art differs from other Asian art forms. Through the centuries, Eastern and Western influences have merged to create a distinct Vietnamese art.
Chinese art gave Vietnam its religious art and calligraphy. As China expanded southwards from the 16th century onwards, traditional Chinese art encountered the radically different Hindu aesthetic canons prevalent in the art of the Champa and Khmer kingdoms.
But the most radical transformation of Vietnamese art came with the arrival of the French colonials in the 19th Century. As French artists portrayed Vietnam from their distinctly European perspective, Vietnamese artists became equally intrigued by the European approach. The Chinese vertical representation of perspective began to blend with European focal point composition while the versatile techniques of oil painting coexisted with the rigorous discipline of Chinese ink on paper painting. The European love of painting outdoors in the tranquil countryside or in the middle of bustling village life met the more intimate and meditative tradition of indoor painting.
The European influence, particularly that of the French, brought about the establishment of the Indochina College of Fine Art in Hanoi in the early 20th century. An energetic exchange of ideas and techniques flowed between the College’s European teachers and artists and their Vietnamese colleagues and students. The Impressionist movement, already well-rooted in Europe, resonated with the Vietnamese soul, becoming a major artistic trend but with a distinctively Vietnamese approach. The influence of Impressionism on Vietnamese art is still clearly visible today.
From the early 20th century, an incredibly dynamic artistic movement developed in Vietnam. The number of artists and art connoisseurs flourished. New techniques were invented for silk paintings. The art of lacquer painting, unique to Vietnam, was developed. Vietnamese art was celebrated across borders, particularly in France, where numerous successful exhibitions recognized the talent of Vietnamese artists.
The dynamism of Vietnamese artistic life did not die during Vietnam’s turbulent 20th century. On the contrary, the vibrant colors of Vietnamese painting became even more vital. Rather than becoming passive, artists made the most out of a difficult situation. American influence was soon followed by Communist presence which allowed talented young artists to travel to major Eastern Europe universities to study European classical art.
Today, even more than in the past, Vietnamese art is subject to global influences, but its unique heritage is clearly visible in the vitality and innovation which is so much a part of this art form. Vietnamese art is the triumph of life and happiness over hardship. The vibrant colors and techniques of the canvases honour the convergence of people and civilisation.
Through the work of some of the most renowned contemporary artists in Vietnam, curated by ArtBlue Studio, this exhibition celebrates the joy of the moment.