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Vietnamese Paintings ? Past, Present And Future

Vietnamese paintings are a rising force in the Asian art arena. They also enjoy a very unique position in the world of Asian art. According to several art commentators, compared to other Asian countries, Vietnamese art showed the earliest signs of a successful merging into the main stream of modern art, as defined by the West, both form-wise and content-wise. This is corroborated by the fact that Vietnam was the seat for Ecole Des Beaux Arts (Indochina's School of Fine Art) in the early 1930s, with the presence of professors from France.

Manifestation of a strong influence by Western techniques and their use of color marked the first generation of artists to emerge from this school. Thematically, their work was closer to their homeland. It embodied a strong Asian thematic essence, especially the freedom and generosity of an Asian soul. A gradual exposure to the international market took Vietnamese paintings to a global audience. It spawned such great, and now immortal names in Vietnamese modem art as To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Phan Chanh, Nguyen Gia Tri, Bui Xuan Phai, Le Pho, Tran Van Can, Nguyen Do Cung, Nguyen 'I'ien Chung, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Duong Bich Lien, and so on.

Vietnamese paintings took a new direction during the country?s struggles with colonialists and the U.S. imperialists. Differences cam to be noticed in the art works of North and South Vietnam. The fierce struggles and people's fighting spirits were reflected on the one hand in the North whereas realism-criticism, romanticism, and escapism into the dream of peace pervaded the art landscape of the occupied South.

Since then, however, Vietnamese fine art has undergone a successful merging in style and theme and has only grown from strength to strength with every passing year. A closer look at this phenomenon reveals that it is not just the profile and status of the nation's art and artists that have grown in strength. The change is also evident in the quality of the art and in the scope of its representation through local, regional, and international galleries and museums. Instrumental to this have been such significant events as the exchanges between the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, and the University of Fine Art, Ha Noi, and the visionary Indochina Arts Projects spearheaded by David Thomas in the United States.

Local galleries and museums have a major role to play in the growing popularity of Vietnamese paintings. They are the main driving factor behind the increasing popular enthusiasm and the commercial success of fine art in Vietnam. Such galleries are virtually countless in cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hue. Some are nothing more than mere shops selling paintings. In the major cities, about 50 galleries can be deemed professional. They deal in a wide variety of local art, ranging from highly popular landscape and figurative work to abstract and experimental work in lacquer and other mediums.

Vietnam has been significantly instrumental in finding Asian art a truly global audience and a more widespread awareness and recognition. It has broken free from its provincial shackles and has emancipated itself for an international presence.