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15/08/2017 - 08:41

Le Thi Hai and silk painting karma

Passionate about silk paintings, the young painter Le Thi Hai is one of the few painters in Hue who pursue the line of traditional paintings that require much effort and time to create.

Le Thi Hai next to her work Stopping along the road


Artist Ha Van Chuoc, former vice rector of the College of Arts, Hue University said: "There are very few painters in Hue who continue to pursue and work on silk material because the climate in Hue is too humid, so it is difficult to protect silk paintings. Nevertheless, the fact that Le Thi Hai is still passionate and continues to pursue the line of silk paintings is very respectable. Hai is a young painter who is step by step gaining success in art." According to painter Ha Van Chuoc, from 1986 to 1987, European painters were very passionate about Vietnamese silk paintings, so there were a great number of painters who pursued silk paintings in Vietnam. However, many of them have now moved on to other materials rather than silk.

The work Harmony

Le Thi Hai comes from Dong Ha, Quang Tri. Keen on painting and captivated by silk paintings since she was just a little girl, Hai decided to go to Hue to study and prepare herself for the College of Arts, Hue University. The major that she chose was silk in the Department of Painting, because according to Hai, only silk paintings match her drawing style and personality. "A woman paints on silk like how she takes care of her child. She must love it in order to draw. Silk paintings require the artist to be meticulous and persistent. After painting one layer, the painter must wait for it to dry before painting another layer overlapping it. A painting of silk reaching the point of "saturation" must have 40 to 50 such layers. Those with quick temper cannot paint silk paintings, because the artist must be very careful and take care of the paintings. Silk paintings are more valuable because they are more time consuming than other paintings. One picture may take one or two months, even four months for large ones. Silk paintings are difficult to create, hard to sell on the market, take a lot of time, and a silk picture cannot be drawn a second time, "Hai said.

The work Sunset on the ancient capital

"Many people have invented new techniques in silk painting; however, Hai still clings to silk paintings with traditional techniques. With this painting approach, painters must tinge layers of colors, one by one. Only with such many layers could the adhesion, transformation, depth and clarity of colors be guaranteed. This requires a lot of work and time. This is Hai’s advantage and the thing which has impressed me about Hai," painter Ha Van Chuoc said.

The work Lotus flowers

Keeping a passionate fire

Artist Le Thi Hai was born in Quang Tri in 1985. Hai graduated in Silk Painting, Hue College of Arts. She is a member of Thua Thien Hue Fine Arts Association.

From 2006 up to now, Hai has participated in many painting exhibitions in Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. Most recently, she participated in the exhibition of celebrating the New Year 2013 held by the Hue Fine Arts Association, the 17th edition of the Thua Thien Hue Women's Exhibition organized by the Women's Union of Thua Thien Hue Province, the Hue College of Arts, the Union of Provincial Literature and Arts Associations, Thua Thien Hue Fine Arts Association.

After graduating from the silk painting major, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Hue College of Arts, Hai decided to stay in Hue to pursue the artistic path. The two most common themes in Hai's silk paintings are women and lotus because with her, "women and lotus evoke in me the strongest emotions." Beholding Hai’s paintings, the viewer easily feel the gentle beauty, the bright and full vitality of the woman through each soft and delicate stroke. These include the Spring Beauty, Love of the dream, Girl, Lotus ... The beauty of everyday life is also filtered and naturally brought into Hai’s paintings such as Resting, Stopping along the road, The Countryside ... Meanwhile, the ancient capital of Hue, a place that has long become Hai's second hometown, appears in a romantic and dreamy sense which is full of poetry and tranquility, especially in paintings such as Sunset on the ancient capital and The Nine Urns. Hai expressed: "Silk paintings are beautiful but unfortunately there are few people who know about them. Once I participated in an exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City, many people who came to see the paintings did not know and asked about this line. They only thought the paintings were like silk paintings sold in the market! In these types of exhibitions, the number of silk paintings was modest, at less than 10 percent of the total works displayed."

Although life is still difficult - Hai and her husband are staying in a rent apartment - Le Thi Hai always keeps the burning passion for silk paintings. In order to afford this love with silk paintings, Hai paints on the ao dai to earn more income. "We must do business to nourish silk paintings because silk paintings cannot be economically viable; if the paintings could bring in an income, I would only be too happy. But there are few people who understand and collect silk paintings. Hopefully, there will be many more Vietnamese who know about silk paintings and I wish silk paintings could be brought to the world. I hope so but I do not know its feasibility!" Hai said.

Hai is fortunate to have a husband who also studied art (Hai's husband - painter Duong Van Kinh studied painting at Hue College of Arts) and share her passion for silk paintings. The couple intends to hold an exhibition of silk paintings. All is planned, but one thing is for sure, the young painter will remain dedicated to silk paintings as a kind of karma.

By Ngoc Ha