Culture Culture

08/11/2019 - 07:30

Ngo Kha painted by Dinh Cuong

There was a man whom the late painter Dinh Cuong spent a lot of effort to recall and remember with his paintings. He was the martyr and poet Ngo Kha - a childhood friend of Dinh Cuong in Hue.

Until the early years of the 21st century, when he was still living with his family in the US, the talented painter devoted a part of his creative career to paint Ngo Kha.

The martyr and poet Ngo Kha through the drawing of painter Dinh Cuong

If the theme of elegant young women, mysterious behind the mossy walls of the old city, helped the late painter Dinh Cuong become famous, then the portraits of his intimate friends and soulmates in his life marked a longing love and nostalgia - an affection that even he himself could fully express.

The painting of his friend, Ngo Kha, too, is very abstract but also very real, making the viewer feel the soul and spirit of the true artist, a tenacious warrior. One of his portraits of the martyr Ngo Kha painted in 2005 in the United States is considered the pinnacle of the portrait series.

Not only that, the story of this portrait has made many viewers emotional. Despite living on the other side of the world and though his friend had passed away many years ago, Dinh Cuong still tried to imagine that lovely face and spent a lot of time to depict every detail of Ngo Kha's portrait.

According to many friends of the late artist Dinh Cuong, once when he traveled from the US to Ho Chi Minh City, he took that precious portrait and discussed with his friends to open an auction and raise money for a magazine related to alumni of Hue University of Education. Along with that, the money could support a few friends in difficult circumstances. However, the auction was unsuccessful due to unfavorable rumors.

At that time, Dinh Cuong decided to bring the painting to Hue and display it at Chau E gallery in the home of Hoang Dang Nhuan, a painter. Not long after that, the painting continued to follow Dinh Cuong to a meeting place of Hue people in Ho Chi Minh City owned by the collector of antiquities, Nguyen Tam Huu - also a native of Hue.

Because of his admiration for Mr. Huu, before returning to the US in 2013, Dinh Cuong decided to “cede” this work to Mr. Huu. A special feature is that on the 45x65cm oil painting, there are two signatures of the painter, one signed in 2005 when the painting was finished and the other in 2013 when the painting was “ceded” to Mr. Huu.

Over time, many people had asked to buy this work, but Mr. Huu had not sold it. In 2018, in a chance meeting, the owner of the painting decided to "cede" to a famous Hue antique collector, Mr. Nguyen Huu Hoang (10 Nguyen Sinh Cung, Hue City).

The lucky owner of Dinh Cuong’s portrait of Ngo Kha could not help but be touched and said that it was predestined and a rare luck that he possessed it. "It is a beautiful portrait among dozens of Dinh Cuong’s portraits of his friends,” he shared.

Although he is a collector of antiques, in recent years, Nguyen Huu Hoang has devoted some time to study painting. "If I have a chance, one day I will exhibit it for everyone to admire," Mr. Hoang said.

Dinh Cuong has painted portraits of many artists

The artist Dinh Cuong was born in 1939, in Thu Dau Mot - Binh Duong. He graduated from Hue College of Fine Arts in 1963 and graduated from the Faculty of Painting at Gia Dinh College of Fine Arts in 1964.

He spent a long time teaching painting in Hue, at Dong Khanh all-Girl High School and Hue College of Fine Arts. In 1989, he moved to the United States to settle in Virginia with his wife and three children. He died in 2016.

Aside from Ngo Kha, the late painter Dinh Cuong had painted many portraits of artists such as: Trinh Cong Son, Hoang Phu Ngoc Tuong, Tran Vang Sao, Pham Duy, Buu Chi, Buu Y ...

Story and photo: Nhat Minh