Culture Culture

29/08/2019 - 07:21

The art space of painter Vinh Phoi: An address for art lovers

On the occasion of the 2-year anniversary of painter Vinh Phoi’s death (July 17), his children have transformed the family house at 12 Bach Dang St., Hue city into a gallery space open to public view. Since then, Vinh Phoi gallery has become a cultural address for art lovers.

"Khong ten" (Untitled)

The gallery exhibits 30 out of his more than 100 artworks currently preserved by the family. Most of the works use oil paint and have no title.

Many valuable paintings are apparently displayed for the first time, such as those on the theme of Dong Son showing the patriotism and national pride: “Hanh trinh ve dat to” (Journey to the ancestral land), "Hung Vuong dung nuoc” (Nation-founding Hung Kings), “Thuyen Dong Son” (The Dong Son Boat) ...

The legacy of Vinh Phoi includes outstanding works marking his various stages of composition. Some were composed before 1975, some, between 1975-1986; 37 paintings created in Italy, France, Switzerland and other works completed later on.

Vinh Phoi was a prolific and persistent artist with a continuous output to the end of his life. His feelings and concerns in each stage of life were cleverly portrayed with his pure and strong heart.

"Hung Vuong dung nuoc" (Nation-founding Hung Kings)

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Phan Thanh Binh, former Rector of the University of Arts - Hue University, said that the most valuable works of Vinh Phoi were on display here. Some works in this gallery were, for the first time, known to the public. To many people’s surprise, Vĩnh Phối experimented with many painting styles, from realism to abstract, semi-abstract and symbolism.

“A devoted, responsible, and sincere teacher and colleague, Vinh Phoi had mastery of the field but never bragged about his schooling in an art cradle of the world. My most favorite photo of his is the one he sat in the heart of Rome to participate in a protest against the Saigon government’s suppression of Buddhism from 1962-1963. The photo is being kept at the National Library of Vietnam,” Binh shared.

Vinh Phoi was known as a quiet and calm person, but his metaphorical abstract paintings were full of collisions, conflicts, and life torments. Some untitled abstract and metaphorical works still allow viewers to feel the depth of the author’s life contemplation.

Also, in this space, viewers could appreciate another art style by Vinh Phoi. His artwork "Khong ten" (Untitled) features long, strong, and folded strokes that are seemingly stretching and scratching the canvas. They are the expressions of a repressed and tormented inner soul and his concerns about life.

"Tiet dieu moi truong II" (The environment’s rhythmic dance II)

Buu Y, a writer and researcher, believes that Vinh Phoi highly valued ​ the original and distinctive features of the nation’s arts but insisted on maintaining his bond with the Western arts. Vinh Phoi could flexibly and skillfully manipulate his brush strokes, but seemingly he liked to challenge his remarkable skill by constantly twisting his brush.

The house of Vinh Phoi on Bach Dang Street was where he spent a peaceful life and went through all the composition stages throughout his career. The place was also filled with memories of many generations of artists, students and friends. When he passed away, his children wished to create a memorial space for their deceased father.

Ms. Nguyen Phuoc Huyen Trang, Vinh Phoi’s daughter, expressed: “This space welcomes all art lovers to study, exchange, and learn about the art life of Vinh Phoi to revive fond memories of him, thereby preserving and promoting his creative ideals along with vivid human and aesthetic values as he always wanted”.

Ms. Nguyen Phuoc Nam Tran, Vinh Phoi’s youngest daughter and also the person in charge of the gallery, shared: “We want to create a space not only to commemorate him but also to exhibit paintings for his beloved artists friends and colleagues, students and relatives to come and have a chat. For the time being, we are displaying 30 works; the rest are still being gathered, selected, arranged, and classified for display according to theme, material, or style ...”

In Hue art, Vinh Phoi has been a recognizable name with his various contributions in the fields of composing, training, and promoting Hue culture... He graduated from Saigon Fine Arts College, then further studied in Italy; during this study period, he attended exhibitions in many countries around the world: Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, the United States, France, Brazil, Thailand ... He taught painting and sculpture to many student generations; some have become widely known.

Story and photos: Trang Hien