Culture Culture

23/11/2017 - 08:48

One who paints love

"Our Hue people are so precious, as precious as agarwood," my friend exclaimed after contemplating Boi Tran's paintings on display in her garden.

Boi Tran

More than 20 years ago, she became well known to the artist circle in Hue for her own private galleries at her house on Tran Hung Dao St. and Morin Hotel. She was considered the first female artist of Hue to open official and luxurious private art galleries.

It has been 15 years since the death of her son when trying to rescue his friend, and she retreated to her garden, painting the pain in her heart. Regularly in silence, on her son's death anniversary every year, she exhibits her works at home, the paintings of a woman who has gone through many storms of life. Beholding her paintings of young women, which is an important theme of Boi Tran, it is as if the viewer were hearing her prayers.

It is the prayers for love, for peace, for human kindness that she wants to express through images of young women, as she whispered: "Faces and women are just vehicles. The real meaning lies inside." Her paintings of women are so "ripe" that it has formed her own typical style that the viewer can find: always in ao dai (Vietnamese long dress), long black hair, big eyes, high necks, innocence and deep sadness hidden behind the gentle look.

And she painted the milestones in her life. Joy, sadness, love, hope, all in the shape of young women, slender-looking but enduring and tenacious.

Contacting Boi Tran, beholding her paintings and observing the way she works, we found in her a woman deeply imbued with Hue culture: working quietly, never boasting, letting her work and her paintings talk. She paints, cooks, reads books, does gardening, designs and builds her house, etc. Whatever she does, she does it so well and with care.

In terms of painting career, Boi Tran has reached an international level. She is the only female artist in Vietnam who, for nearly 10 years now, has been continuously invited to send her paintings to Christie's and Sotheby's_ the two most reputable auction houses in the world with a history of more than 250 years. Before Boi Tran, there had been another artist from Hue who had enjoyed the same favor; it was Le Thi Luu but she had died. Boi Tran said she was not talented but just because she was lucky. But how come good luck has lasted for nearly 10 years with such prestigious auctioneers? She must have real talent; her paintings must be of value and full of new ideas to maintain a firm position in that battlefield. Viewers can see the Hue character in her ability of overcoming the pain and advancing. It is painting that helps her survive the loss of her son. It is painting through which she finds herself happy and existing.

She said she was so fortunate to have received much love from kind and talented people who have helped her perfect herself with the love of understanding. Trinh Cong Son the musician was an example of selflessness; Buu Y the translator, of endless effort to improve personality, while Nguyen Trung the painter teaches her about calmness...

and her paintings

My conversation beside the easel with the painter in her 60s, who has gone through many incidents of life but is always smiling and gently-behaved gave me the answer why her paintings are not filled with sadness but with peace. As she put it, since she received so much love, she always feels sincerely thankful to life. The most honest voice of an artist is his work. That is not the story of her own any more, but of all artists.

Story and photos: XUAN AN