Culture Culture

16/06/2020 - 09:02

The old painter who keeps the soul of Bao Vinh ancient town

It’s a neighborhood with communal house, temples, ancient tile-roofed houses. In a distance, the village women with baskets of vegetables are talking in a market corner. There’s the Huong river winding poetically, where boats running for livelihood. All these are surprisingly poetic.

At the age of 73, Tran Van Mang is still hard-working with his passion

The scene has become unique, splendid in the eyes and through the brush of a talented painter who grew up in Bao Vinh ancient town with memories. It’s Tran Van Mang. At the age of 73, he still paints and only paints Bao Vinh ancient town, which is his corner of nostalgia.

In his house in Bao Vinh ancient town downstream of the Huong river, the old painter has his own corner spatial enough to enjoy life.

“I paint for my passion. Painting is for me, for my pleasure and youth choice. It is for fun” – the old painter honestly and modestly said with happiness.

Looking at his paintings of Bao Vinh ancient town for decades, with streets, ancient houses reflecting themselves in the Huong river, one will recall the poetic memories.

These paintings that are representative of Bao Vinh life and community culture have been depicted vividly, gently through his brushstrokes with the scene of festivals, markets, craft village. This takes the audience to a world of nostalgia of an old village of Hue.

Looking at every work that was carefully arranged in a room, the painter seemed to be deep in thoughts on the brushstrokes full of all his sentiments. He knows every corner of Bao Vinh, so most of his paintings about this town are minute, leaving the audience with special emotion at length.

Bao Vinh under so many changes and damages, as well as restoration with concrete blocks, has been depicted in Mang’s paintings. Yet the painter, whose life is closely connected with Bao Vinh, always finds his life fortunate because he could ever set up and earned for living in his own home land.

“Bao Vinh has always been of great beauty in my eyes. The ancient and evoking beauty urges me to paint to preserve the beauty for later generations. I hope people will, through my paintings, appreciate the cultural and architectural values passed on by our ancestors, so that they grow the awareness of preserving and promoting these values,” he said and honestly added: “I will paint as long as I can breathe.”

A corner of Bao Vinh ancient town through Tran Van Mang’s eyes

He is a self-efficacy person. He never wants to be publicly known through a newspaper article or an exhibition. He wants to keep his paintings for the enjoyment of his own and of his dears and nears, despite the fact that his peers have become well-known in the painting career with many exhibitions and painting auctions.

Speaking about the painter Mang, it is a regret to give a miss to the painting “Greatness” on tweed cloth. He started painting it in 2006, when he lived in poverty and did many things for family living such as cyclo-driving, pancake making and tobacco street-vending.

“Although I was in poverty then, I never thought of giving up painting. I still spent a small amount of my income on painting materials. Many people, on knowing this, gave me tweed cloths so that I could continue with my passion,” he recalled and said he ever forgot that his wife ever mended those damaged cloths for him to paint.

The work “Greatness” has been 220 meters long so far. “I am painting it,” he confirmed. “I paint everything I see in the process of preserving and developing Bao Vinh. I consider it my lifetime work with the hope that some day, I will show it to everyone, especially those who love Bao Vinh ancient town.”

The painter Tran Van Mang graduated from Hue College of Fine Art before 1975. He is contemporary with Than Van Huy and Dang Mau Tuu, and is Hoang Dang Nhuan’s friend. After graduation, he worked as a teacher and did many other jobs before pursuing his passion of painting about Bao Vinh ancient town. He also works on other life-related themes and nature with materials such as lacquer, acrylic on paper, canvas and tweed.

Story and photos: Phan Thanh

Share