Culture Culture

20/01/2021 - 09:17

Telling stories about the heritage with the palette knife

Many people who love majestic ancient monuments of the heritage of Hue keep admiring the paintings portraying those monuments by a young artist.

Le Huu Long is working diligently to preserve the beauty of Hue

In his paintings, the ancient constructions appear elegant in superb colors and are packed with his emotion and love. That painter is Le Huu Long (aged 33 in An Dong, Hue.)

Returning to his passion

“Painting is not only my passion. It also gives me access to culture through great ancient monuments left by the predecessors,” said Long. He began with sketching in his notebook as a student at Hue College of Arts. But he then stopped painting due to some failures in life. 

Painting came back to him just about two years ago by chance. While he was confused about how to restart, a friend of his wanted him to wander around with him for inspirations. Passing the Imperial City, he found his memories about his sketching trips in there rushing back. 

“I decided to paint those constructions. They were not only historical monuments, but each of them was a story with many cultural layers accumulated with time. Their images need to be preserved,” recalled Long.

He did it right away. He packed his back bag with canvas, colors, and the palette knife. Long likes painting with a palette knife. He said only with the knife could he be able to “record” the heritage on his canvas.

It is a big surprise for those who look at him working. He mixes colors right on a corner of the canvas, creating different unique hues. His eyes keep looking at the monument while his hand is painting skillfully. Curved tile roofs, regal obelisks, etc., make their appearance on his canvas in proportional miniature. 

One can see his diligence and passion for painting the heritage only when one follows him to palaces, royal mausoleums, pagodas, communal houses, etc. 

According to Long, the monuments in Hue look superb in the summer sun but in the prolonged winter rain, they look quiet and dreamy. Painters see different monuments depending on the time. Their paintings are thus both real and surreal.

Keeping the beauty of Hue in his own way

It is hard to mention all his paintings about the heritage of Hue which Long has portrayed on his canvas. He not only paints historical monuments such as The Citadel, Gia Long Mausoleum, Khai Dinh Mausoleums, Tu Đuc Mausoleum, An Dinh Residence, etc., but also An Truyen Communal House, Duong No Village and ancient pagodas such as Tu Hieu, Dieu De, etc.

Not to mention his nights sitting alone telling the story about the Perfume river by Truong Tien bridge, about the moon nights in the ancient town of Bao Vinh.

Chuong Duc Gate and Noon Gate by Le Huu Long

According to Le Huu Long, he always studies the monument very carefully before painting it. It takes him lots of time to view the monument from various angles and in different moments. He also reads relevant documents to understand its historical values.

Take the Noon Gate for example. Long has painted this landmark of Hue many times. The great majestic gate symbolizing the power of the Nguyen dynasty appears differently in his paintings depending on his viewing angles and his different emotions. 

“When I painted the front of the Noon Gate, I feel the majestic air of a unique royal construction of the Nguyen dynasty. But when I view the gate from afar, nestling in trees at sunset, I was impressed with its serenity and peacefulness,” said Long.

That is probably why many paintings about the heritage of Hue get the interest of art lovers, many of whom come from as far as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but have memories with Hue, or even people who “live in Hue but always miss Hue.”

Nguyen Huu Hoang, an antique collector in Hue, was very impressed when he watched Long’s paintings. Though he had spend time visiting many historical monuments in Hue, he still found Long’s paintings viewed from unique and extremely strange angles.

With the love for Hue, not only Hoang, but many other people want to possess Long’s paintings as a way to preserve and promote the beauty of the heritage of Hue. 

Not only Hue, Le Huu Long is cherishing the ambition of preserving the beauty of other monuments throughout Vietnam in his own way.

“To me, painting is a passion, but preserving images of monuments in painting is my love. On the whole it is a journey to find myself by passion and love,” confided Long.

By Phan Thanh