Culture Culture

07/08/2020 - 08:26

Telling stories of Hue by ‘alla prima’ (direct painting)

If you happen to see a group of artists inspiringly painting at an ancient corner, by the bridge or in a park, at noon or in the evening, they are definitely the artist group led by Tran Huu Nhat (from Huong Ho, Huong Tra).

As he commits himself to preserving the soul of Hue, Nhat never misses a single art “game” that he has founded. “Painting a work directly makes a nostalgic feeling in me about something ancient and beautiful,” said Tran Huu Nhat.

Kho Bridge across Ngu Ha river in the Imperial City in Tran Huu Nhat’s work

Preserving the beauty of Hue

In the burning summer sunlight, Tran Huu Nhat sat on the wharf by the Huong river near Bao Vinh ancient town painting without bothering the noisy and busy life around. He depicted all the beautiful ancient houses, temples, markets and the narrow streets in his work. Bao Vinh was gradually shaped in his work with uniqueness: changes interwoven in nostalgia.

On another weekend, Nhat and his team stopped by Kho Bridge spanning Ngu Ha river in the Imperial City. Under the shade of a tree, Nhat observed carefully before he painted. He stopped at times to think and breathe deep.

“We have passed many streets and crossed many bridges in Hue. We can think we know them all, but we actually do not understand them. I sometimes doubt if I am a local resident,” he said and he sought the answers by painting to preserve and cultivate the love for history and homeland.

For the past three months, Nhat and his team have been to every corner of Hue, from the ancient heritage city to the beautiful suburbs, to paint the soul of the ancient capital.

Each painting site gives him an opportunity to admire the ancient construction works surrounded with a fanciful space in a breezing evening, and he finds himself in the scene. “Hue is a treasure of heritage, which is a gift from Mother Nature. Once I paint, I hear the ancient echo. I am grateful to Hue for giving me a setting to paint the works I love. For me, there is no beautiful word that has qualities necessary to describe the beauty of Hue,” said Nhat.

Part of Nguyen Truong To street in Tran Huu Nhat’s painting

Passion for Hue

Tran Huu Nhat has been engaged with direct painting ever since he was a student of Fine Art 20 years ago. He used to go here and there to paint for pleasure. He discontinued his hobby due to his busy work and other concerns. Now in his forties, he returns to his passion of direct painting.

The main reason for this return is to revive the direct painting movement that used to be pursued by many artists. He and four other artists have founded a direct painting team called “Ngu Hanh” (The Five Elements).

Each team member feels Hue in his own way and by means of a different painting material, but above all, they have produced wonderful works. The more they paint, the more they feel they are living in a slow-paced ancient Hue.

For Tran Huu Nhat, he never repeats the color blocks in his works because he always feels different and each brushstroke shows his imagination of Hue through time. Having experienced direct painting in many places around the country, Nhat remarks: “Painting in Hue brings me more tranquility than in other places. That’s why I have great passion for Hue, though it is my homeland.”

Every work he and his team painted has become an attraction to the locals. Once the work done, both the artist and the local people who witnessed the painting were excited as if they were talking with nature through the vivid colors of the painting.

Tran Huu Nhat and his direct painting work of Bao Vinh

Nhat often shares his paintings on social media and painting forums. His paintings draw the attention of the social network users who gave many compliments and comments. It is his own way to get the message across the public and promote the tourism for Hue.

“Hue is both lively and ancient, which makes a harmony in the preservation and development of Hue. Many people told me that they missed Hue and loved Hue more when they saw my paintings,” said Nhat.

An exhibition-to-be for the public

The freelance artist Tran Huu Nhat revealed that he and his team “Ngu Hanh” planned to have an exhibition on the theme of “Summer Days” displaying about 50 works. The exhibition is expected to open in August at the Secret Studio, 1/7 Nguyen Cong Tru street, Hue City.

He said that this would be an art exhibition for the public. Different from other abstract contemporary art exhibitions, this will be a display of the alla prima (direct painting) works which are closely tied to the ordinary life.

Story : Phan Thanh; Photos: H.N