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29/03/2018 - 08:05

Burgundy flowers & memories of Hue in the paintings by Do Duy Tuan

Painter Do Duy Tuan experienced various means of livelihood, but painting has eventually turned into his career, leaving him a vivid world of imagination in colors and lines to savor.

The work by Do Duy Tuan

The paintings by Do Duy Tuan give viewers an impression of wandering in the gardens of Hue, where there are young ladies with long hair scented with bo ket (fructus gleditschiae); fragrant plants and flowers; mysterious, old, moss-covered brick walls. They are all reminiscent of the old days. 

With regard to Hue, people cannot fail to mention young ladies and flowers, and visitors cannot miss the glamorous ancient capital of the nation’s last feudal dynasty during their visit. All these elements have been vividly and attractively depicted in the paintings by Do Duy Tuan, with impressive color schemes that stir the viewer’s emotions.

Young ladies and lotus are always interwoven themes in Do Duy Tuan's works, as an indication of the lotus’ miraculous origin, and the power of motherhood. Young ladies in Do Duy Tuan's paintings are mostly portrayed in the traditional Ao dai of Hue; some others in Yem (Vietnamese undergarment that resembles a bib) and ao ba ba (Vietnamese silk pajamas) from the ancient northern and southern Vietnam respectively. The images of these ladies in most of Do Duy Tuan’s works are presented as having gentle and shy looks.

The work by Do Duy Tuan

The portrait in light pastel purple, painting Miss Thuy Dung in 2008 by Do Duy Tuan, was auctioned in a fundraising program to help children and bought by the Miss herself for VND 27 million. It was the image of a young lady sitting on an antique chair next to white lotus flowers in the twilight hue, her hair blowing in the wind and a white scarf on her shoulder, enchanting all viewers into a world of dreams and imagination.

The work by Do Duy Tuan

A distinct feature of his paintings about young ladies and flowers is that he uses a “ton sur ton” style, a combination of different shades of a single color, that easily arouses emotions in the viewer. Color tones in the works of this genre are quite abundant, from dreamy pale violet to fiery red, cool green and autumn-filled yellow. Some paintings of young ladies also have the image of far old boats that seem to come from the painter’s memories, and the arches in Hue Citadel also appear from behind the layers of colors.

In addition to paintings of young ladies and lotus flowers, or conical hats and bird cages, he also has surreal paintings with impressive colors, symbols hidden under numerous overlapping-yet-transparent thin layers of colors, and papier mache together with other materials that are eye-catching and impactful. Besides, he paints cities, landscape, still life, and abstract paintings.

The work by Do Duy Tuan

Apart from young ladies as an attractive, recurrent theme, Do Duy Tuan also paints burgundy flowers. It is the shades of burgundy that seize the viewers’ eyes and invade their minds even when they no longer see the paintings.

Story and photos: Le Huynh Lam

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