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Pigment art depicts magical beauty of the fifties in Hanoi

Aptly titled, The Miracle, an exhibition introduces for the first time 100 artworks by artist Le Van Xuong. At the September 21-23 show in Saigon, many paintings recapture Hanoi in the 1950s with color pigments. 

Pigment art depicts magical beauty of the fifties in Hanoi

A corner of Hanoi in 1952 shows wide spaces and a leisurely way of life.

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Outside the Dong Xuan Market. One of the biggest wholesale markets in the country, there is an absence of motorized vehicles and public transportation in the form of a tram. Bicycles and cyclos, the most environmentally friendly forms of transport, ruled the streets then. Now, one can only imagine the quality of the air that Hanoians breathed then. Le Van Xuong, focusing on “painting with inner peace”, captures the peaceful ambience of the capital city, a thing firmly of the past.

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A corner of the Quan Su pagoda in Hoan Kiem District in the heart of Hanoi. The pagoda, built in the 15th century, has witnessed the city’s transformation through many centuries. Many painters have lauded Xuong’s works, calling them a window into the past, enabling them to see a Hanoi described by famous writers in renowned literature pieces.  

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Hang Buom Street. This was the hustle and bustle of trade then. The shops with their awnings against the sun, people sitting in the shade and talking. 

Le Van Xuong has painted with different materials including oil paints and pastel, but his excellence really comes through in using color pigments, said Bui Xuan Phai, one of the most famous Vietnamese painters of the last century. 

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At the “O Quan Chuong”, or Quan Chuong gate, one of the five gates of the old Hanoi center.

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Life on Gam Cau street. “Gam Cau” refers to the residential area along and under the Long Bien bridge on the eastern side of the Old Quarter.

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Sunset on Tran Nhat Duat Street.

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Hang Dong Street in the old quarter.

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In the Old Quarter again, on Hang Da Street.

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The Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Hanoi, is a picture of serenity on the West Lake.

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Le Van Xuong (1917-1988) learned drawing as a child from a private tutor. Relatives say he completed more than 1,000 paintings and sculpted 100 statues.

Xuong could also play various musical instruments including the violin, piano and guitar. The state posthumously awarded him for promoting art in 1997.

Color pigments, or color powder, is a popular drawing material. Painters can mix the powder with water or other solutions and paint the pictures with brushes.

Le Van Xuong had hosted several personal exhibitions. One notable exhibition was “The 36 streets on Hanoi” in the Hanoi Opera House in 1954.

The Miracle exhibition is being organized by the painter’s daughter to mark his 101st birthday and 30th death anniversary.  It will be held from September 21 to 23 at the Park Hyatt Saigon, No.2 Cong Truong Lam Son Street, District 1, HCMC.


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