Culture Culture

25/09/2019 - 08:00

The uniqueness of the pen-nib art

Only with a pen-nib, Indian ink and white paper can the artist be creative in the art of pen-nib. This kind of art also has sight effects through the color contrast between black and white.

“The Journey” by To Tran Bich Thuy

The art of pen-nib is often mentioned in company with female artist To Tran Bich Thuy, a lecturer at the College of Arts, Hue University. Although she was a graduate in lacquering, she had affinity with pen-nib art.

For passion, she self-studied, experimented, discovered and made certain achievements in this art form at the areal and national exhibitions. This form of art also makes a name for her.

She used the pen-nib to depict such topics as the conceptualization of life, human statuses, the doctrines, concerns and sentiments of life. In her treasure of pen-nib drawings, there are many works of unhappy lives.

Looking at her drawings on this theme, viewers have become more open-minded to realistic humanity values with the doctrines of human beings and life experience that the artist conveyed.

In the work “The Journey” she considered human statuses as the fate of the butterflies at different life stages. The first drawing was about man turning into a butterfly born in a cocoon, with open eyes to observe and fly everywhere to experience life. The bright green in the drawing symbolized strong vitality.

The second was in yellowish brown indicated the human maturity after understanding all life principles. The dry yellow cocoon in the third drawing expressed the conclusion and the thoroughly understanding of life, shown in the tranquil Zen posture.

The series “Conceptualizing life” collected by the Hue Museum of Fine Art is a reflection of human life with ups and downs on the way to happiness. As samsara is inevitable in life, human beings will realize the true values of life and strive for aspiration at some time in life. This is the underlying message to the viewers.

“Going to the market” by Nguyen Khac Tai

To Tran Bich Thuy said that the pen-nib accompanied her career as a friend. She always has a pen-nib in her bag to draw as a way to record her feelings when she goes to work or goes out for relaxation. She had her first exhibition of pen-nib art “A Dialogue with Time” organized in Thailand in 2004, which was highly appreciated by friends and colleagues, home and abroad.

Another young artist popular with the art of pen-nib is Nguyen Khac Tai, a lecturer at the College of Arts, Hue University. In his pen-nib drawings, the space is depicted in the realistic descriptive style.

The work “Going to the Market” is a beautiful drawing of gentle graceful young ladies in traditional costumes. The five young ladies carrying the back-baskets are five different flexible postures that Nguyen Khac Tai exploited through shapes and blocks showing the differences in rise-fall, the high-low and the big-small shades. Many other works were elaborated in unique manner of composing in-depth space, layer-intertwining of details about everyday life.

Nguyen Khac Tai said “I take advantage of traditional drawing in the art of pen-nib, but still ensure the peculiarities interleaving with the fullness and the depth of dark and light colors. In pen-nib works, I usually create the space in the realistic descriptive style, and sometimes I combine the conventional space with the reciprocal shapes, blocks and strokes to make effects of pervasiveness and movement.”

Pen-nib drawing is known as an art form and a handy, accessible material. Only with a pen-nib, Indian ink and white paper can the artist be fully creative.

Assoc. Prof. Phan Thanh Binh, former rector of the College of Arts, Hue University, said that the art of pen-nib in Hue is quite unique with drawings of scenery and ancient monuments, although there are not many artists in the field. Pen-nib drawing in Hue has its own style as it shows the national identity in the theme, technique as well as presentation.

Pen-nib art is rich in expressiveness as it can effectively indicates minute details and the contrast between darkness and brightness in every stroke. Only with the black and white can pen-nib drawings express the inner feelings of the artist. The levels of color contrast can express different layers of space, creating the depth of the work.

Pen-nib art also has the various descriptive ability, bearing its own features. Images or spaces are created out of dots, strokes and blocks in a sentimental manner, such as the gentleness of water and cloud, the freshness of the morning dew, or the dilution of rain.

Assoc. Prof. Phan Thanh Binh said “it is very difficult to make a pen nib drawing as it is explicitly descriptive. An artist must be very devoted to do pen nib drawing as it is not common. Two artists, To Tran Bich Thuy and Nguyen Khac Tai, are currently recognized as having their own styles with this art form in the circle of Hue Fine Art.”

Story and photos: TRANG HIEN