Culture Culture

04/01/2019 - 20:00

Nguyen Thi Hue’s silk painting and “Rain of Charcoal”

Gentleness, softness and femininity are my impressions of silk paintings by the painter Nguyen Thi Hue. There in each of her works is a never-ending depth.

Nguyen Thi Hue and her paintings

As a young girl, Nguyen Thi Hue (born in 1977, member of Vietnam Art Association) did not have a special interest in painting, nor had she held a brush in hand. But it is as if painting took hold of her. An artist living next door once needed help and he invited Hue to work in his studio. Trying painting, she suddenly realized her gift for painting and decided to get in on art. Graduating from College of Arts, Hue University, majoring in silk painting, she chose silk to be the material which she would stick to throughout her life.

Though Nguyen Thi Hue has been painting for nearly 15 years, silk painting keeps tempting her with its gentleness, softness and elegance. “As a woman, I think silk painting is my most rational choice. I love its softness and gentleness. Silk is also a traditional material for Vietnamese painting,” said the artist.

 “Rain of Charcoal and Me”

Nguyen Thi Hue does not paint in the pure traditional way. Her paintings are the combination of improvisations and non-stop creativity. Now and then she even gilds her paintings. Sometimes she brings sand and salt to her works, or uses foil which she makes herself. Her clever combination of tradition and modernism breathes new life into her silk paintings.

Since she loves yellow, that color is dominant in her paintings. Whatever she paints, yellow is always present in it. Because she does not wants to repeat herself, she keeps searching for something new, either in theme or way to express herself.

“When I was still a student, I saw many people quit silk painting because the painting could easily get moldy even when you are working on it,” said Hue. She has thus been thinking a lot about how to overcome it. Her graduation work was a silk painting without cardboard, though she painted it in the traditional style.


Nguyen Thi Hue’s silk paintings are always painted in many layers and with different materials. Beholding her silk paintings closely, besides the softness and mild colors, one can see other images intertwined like 3D pictures. It is her own way to give depth, as well as durability for her paintings. 

Nguyen Thi Hue’s paintings are full of philosophy about human beings and her thinking and experiences about life. A popular theme of hers is Buddhism and thoughts about religion and secular society.

Just a certain austere image can made her heart vibrate with love and empathy. Through her works "Bowl and Buddha", "Freeing" or "Landscape,” she wants to get across messages about human kindness. With her creativity and non-stop searching, Nguyen Thi Hue never puts any constraint on theme, but draws everything that inspires and moves her.

 “Holding Lotuses”

Truong Tien Bridge can be seen repeatedly in the paintings by Nguyen Thi Hue. "Moving with Huong," (Huong is the name of a river,) depicts Truong Tien Bridge in sparkling golden yellow in a gentle, soft and profound style. By gilding the painting, an unconventional technique for silk painting, the painter succeeds in giving her work depth and beautiful color combination. “Moving with Huong" is where heaven, earth, clouds and water meet in a typical setting of Hue.

Recently, Nguyen Thi Hue turned to the theme of environment with a series of paintings named “Rain of Charcoal.” It is regarded as a turning point in her creativity and with her concerns about environmental protection.

“When I was a little girl, every time I got water from the first rain of the season, I saw it all black. After some research, I realized it was called rain of charcoal and it was because of the polluted environment.” In May this year, when participating in an art camp, ideas about this topic kept appearing in her mind. In just one month, she made 20 sketches, mainly in black and white. Polluted environment, miserable people, dead plants, etc., are what she wants to reflect in her paintings.

"First of all, I will paint 50 paintings for the exhibition in France, Germany and Switzerland in May 2019. This important theme is to ring the warning bell about environmental pollution,” said she eagerly.

Though admitting that she is not so passionate, concerns about art are always with her. Her paintings have been exhibited in India, America and will be in France, Switzerland, Germany, etc., in the near future. Those busy activities did affect her creativity. But realizing that painting is also her responsibility, she always finds time for expressing her experiences and feelings with the brush when she feels comfortable in mind.

Story and photos: Trang Hien