Culture Culture

18/03/2021 - 09:35

The buffalo in painting: symbol for peacefulness and prosperity

In the style that is both descriptive and abstract, the year animal of 2021 appears in painting in its familiar and strong manner, signifying a peaceful and prosperous new year.

“Buffalo” by Nguyen An

At the art exhibition of the new year animal paintings 2021, the 30 works by 15 painters, made of popular materials such as lacquer, oil paint, acrylic, ceramic, etc., portray the year animal of Tan Suu 2021 in various vivid styles, creating a merry atmosphere of spring.

Each painter has his different style, way of thinking, and feeling about the year animal. The exhibition brings the viewer a colorful, vivid and lovely “world of buffalos.” 

According to Dang Mau Tuu, the buffalo is a familiar animal to the 

Vietnamese life. In Eastern culture, it is the second in the 12 year animals. It symbolizes gentleness, industry, hard work, honesty, straightforwardness and modesty. It also symbolizes strength and courage. For generations, the buffalo has attached itself with the wet rice agricultural civilization, entering poetry, folklore and painting.

Many painters exploit the characteristics of and the folk tales about the buffalo to express reunion, attachment and love on Tet. The painting "White Apricot" by Nguyen Quoc Son is about the attachment of lovers in the apricot garden waiting for the spring. "Enjoying Tet" by Phan Thanh Binh is the personification of the buffalo who travels and enjoys flowers and Tet.

Enjoying Tet - Phan Thanh Binh

As the painter who has painted the most paintings of year animals in Hue, this year, Dang Mau Tuu contributes 10 paintings of the buffalo filled with joy and hope for a lucky beautiful new year. His painting "Living with Heaven and Earth” portrays the buffalo which symbolizes fertility, strength, and uprightness.

Many other artists also exploit the theme "The Buffalo is the Beginning of a Career.” The buffalo is the symbol of the wet rice agricultural civilization that has been associated with Vietnamese farmers for centuries. "Countryside" by Nguyen Van Sy depicts the peaceful countryside with ripe rice fields, lotus ponds, the mother buffalo playing with her kids. It is like a wish for peace and a happy new year.

In addition to Song Nhu Gallery, there is another exhibition: “Spring and the Year Animal" at Le Ba Dang Art Center. The viewer can also watch many interesting paintings and installations about the year animal.

With his two lacquer works "In the Field,” Nam Thanh Trung draws the buffalo using graphic art. His warm colors on the background remind the viewer of the strength of the buffalo, a beautiful image in the field. The yellow color in the painting is also an interesting metaphor. It is the longing for a bumper crop.

The two buffalo paintings by Tran Huu Nhat show the viewer his way of thinking about the buffalo which is friendly and hard-working like the virtues of the Vietnamese. According to Tran Huu Nhat, he painted the buffalo with his sense of optimism. He wished the year of Tan Suu would shoo away the bad luck of the COVID-19 pandemic of the year of Canh Ty, and the humankind would be able to live in peace. 

“Living with Heaven and Earth” by Dang Mau Tuu 

Many other paintings also depict the buffalo with its sharp, pointed and flexible horns and its fiery eyes symbolizing its strong energy. There are works of gentle and rustic buffalos walking to the field or immersing themselves in the river welcoming the spring.

Not only drawn in a realistic or abstract style, this year animal is also portrayed in the folk style, made of ceramic, and reflected through installations to tell people the story of the new year. 

Each painting attracts the viewer not only by its lively and colorful description of the year animal but also by its special characteristics and its closeness to life filled with spring atmosphere. Through the paintings, the viewer can better understand the role of the buffalo in the Vietnamese culture and find some food for thought and wish for a full, abundant, and happy new year like the year animal of Tan Suu.

Story and photos: Trang Hien - Vo Nhan