ClockTuesday, 14/05/2024 10:14

Telling historical stories with sketches

TTH.VN - The sketches created by Artist Nguyen Van Nguyen successfully depict the heroic historical years of the resistance war fought by the people and soldiers of Binh Tri Thien against the US. These sketches accurately portrayed the lives of compatriots and soldiers during this time. Many of these works were composed during the war and were introduced to the public for the first time in an exhibition titled “Memory Land”.

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 Artist Nguyen Van Nguyen (white shirt) in the exhibition space

The exhibition was recently opened at the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Thua Thien Hue province towards the end of March. The exhibition's timing has made it even more significant as it coincides with the 49th anniversary of the liberation of Thua Thien Hue province and 49 years of national reunification.

Nguyen Van Nguyen was born in 1950 in Me Linh district of Vinh Phuc province. The boy Nguyen was orphaned at a young age and sent to Kim Dong orphanage in Chuong My, Hanoi. He graduated from the Vietnam College of Fine Arts in 1971 and the Hue College of Fine Arts in 1984.

In his youth, he participated in the resistance war against the US and was one of the cultural officials assigned to work in Vinh Linh special zone, Quang Tri province. During his years living in this “land of fire”, with his passion for art and honest perspective, he created hundreds of sketches depicting soldiers and compatriots in a realistic and profound way, recreating years of heroic wartime history.

He sketched the daily lives of people in liberated areas and soldiers diligently training on the field or on duty, helping people examine and treat diseases. Other scenes portrayed in the painting include a tranquil view of Con Co island, a bustling boat-building scene, and a bountiful fishing season.

Nguyen’s sketches have been created using a ballpoint pen, pencil, and watercolor over a period of 50 years. These sketches are akin to a slow-motion movie, and they take their viewers slowly back through each diary page in a unique and captivating manner. All create a powerful film about the resistance war against the US, highlighting the strength of solidarity, heroism, and sacrifices of the soldiers and people of Binh Tri Thien to achieve resounding victories.

As we look at the paintings, we can see the artist's abundant energy and his triumph over the countless hardships of war. Not only did he fulfill his duties as a soldier on the cultural front, but he also devoted himself to his passion and to the way he filed his works as a precious documentary picture diary.

 The work “Soldiers assisting people in irrigating work” (Watercolor, created in 1971)

Nguyen's exhibition features over 130 works showcasing his compositions of praising President Ho Chi Minh and praising the homeland and country that was composed in later stages using oil paint, engraved paint, and acrylic. He disclosed that the majority of them were published for the first time. Those are nearly all the pieces he cherishes from his artistic journey.

“I must admit that my skill set is limited to drawing, and I hardly ever consider showcasing my artwork in exhibitions. I am happy to say that I have recently connected with the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Thua Thien Hue, for which I worked before retiring. Fortunately, I received support from my colleagues to create displays and introduce them to everyone,” shared Artist Nguyen.

On the opening day, the artist, who had lived in Hue for more than half of his life, decided to donate all of his paintings to the Ho Chi Minh Museum. This was his way of expressing his gratitude towards the land he had chosen as his second home, and to convey his spiritual legacy to a prestigious agency.

Ms. Le Thuy Chi, Director of the Ho Chi Minh Museum of Thua Thien Hue province, said that the day she received works from Nguyen, she was deeply touched by his talent, dedication, and strong desire to preserve them for future generations. People's hearts flutter in admiration when they see the pencil and watercolor sketches that have yellowed and darkened over time. These works of art are a reminder of the harsh reality of the war more than half a century ago, and each page is a testament to the sweat, tears, and blood of our compatriots and soldiers.

“Those works of art are filled with emotions, becoming valuable sources of historical and artistic documents. The paintings serve as a reminder of the heroic years of our nation and the great sacrifices and contributions made by the previous generations that paved the way for the spring of independence and unity of our country. It is also a valuable message sent to the public, especially the young generation, about the spirit of national self-respect and the desire to contribute,” confided Ms. Chi. She concluded with an affirmation of her appreciation for the artist's historical, aesthetic, and spiritual contributions.

Story and photos: Nhat Minh
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