Book “Su bat dau cua nuoc” by Vietnamese poet Tran Le Khanh has been now available in the US book market under the name of “The beginning of water”.
The bilingual Vietnamese – English book is a collection of Khanh’s short poems. (Photo:nongnghiep.vn)
The bilingual Vietnamese – English book is a collection of Khanh’s short poems. It was translated into English by US poet Bruce Weigl, who has strong links with Vietnamese authors, and is considered a bridge between Vietnamese and US literature.
The poems were issued in the US by White Pine, an independent literary publisher that has been publishing quality poetry and prose since 1974.
Khanh, born in 1971 in the northern province of Hoa Binh, currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City. Since 2016, he has published five books, and some of his poems have been adopted for music by composer Quoc Bao.
Before engaging in literature and art, he started the career as a financial analyst certificated by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (US) and the HCM City Economy University.
He focuses on two genres of poetry, free style and luc bat (six-eight-word distich metre, a traditional verse form in Vietnamese poetry).
According to Chairman of the Vietnam Writers’ AssociationNguyen Quang Thieu, he found fresh things and a different spirit in Khanh’s poetry.
Khanh follows minimalism with short sentences,Thieu said, adding his single words are like seeds growing in the souls of readers, small seeds that will turn into a big green tree.
Khanh’s poems are precise, giving clear images and messages with truthful emotion. And there is always a philosophy inside those words, said Thieu.
Khanh breathes a fresh air into Vietnamese literature, and his “su bat dau cua nuoc” fascinates readers in the US a lot. Earlier, most of the Vietnamese poems published in the US were about wars, and they were written by war veterans as a way to heal sorrows caused by conflicts between the two nations./. VNA
HCM City (VNS/VNA) – A special concert featuring Vietnamese music and songs will be staged by veteran and young artists of leading art troupes in HCM City on April 29.
It will feature more than 100 performers in music and theatre.
Revolutionary songs by famous composers Tran Hoan, Hoang Van and Phan Huynh Dieu will be highlighted.
Folk songs in praise of the country and soldiers will be performed by pop stars Cam Ly and Hien Thuc.
Contemporary dances featuring HCM City and its history and culture in different periods will be also included.
People’s Artist Thanh Ngan and Meritorious Artist Trong Phuc will introduce tai tu music — a part of the region’s traditional music that began 100 years ago — at the event. Their performance will depict the daily life of southern farmers who have worked hard to develop their land and wealth.
“Our show, Ban Hung Ca Cua Mua Xuan Dai Thang, will tell the stories of Vietnamese people, the country’s history, culture and lifestyle,” People’s Artist Ngan, who has 20 years of experience in cai luong (reformed opera), said.
“Our artists will introduce a truly unique style of Vietnamese art.”
“We have worked hard for several weeks and spent a lot on beautiful clothes and accessories suited to the show’s theme,” she added.
Ban Hung Ca Cua Mua Xuan Dai Thang will begin at 8pm today at the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in District 1.
HCM City is also opening two exhibitions featuring photos and sculptures to serve city people during the national holiday.
The sculpture exhibition of 73 works by 52 artists from the city and southern provinces is on display at the HCM City Fine Arts Museum, 97 Pho Duc Chinh street, District 1.
Most of the sculptures are in stone, metal, bronze and composite. The works highlight southern people and their challenges in life today.
The photo exhibition at Nguyen Hue Pedestrian street, called Tu Hao Mot Dai Bien Cuong (The pride-worthy frontier strip) features 196 works highlighting outstanding economic, social and economic achievements of HCM Ctiy.
Many photos feature the country’s seas and islands.
Both events will run through May 9./.
Nghi’s showcase of intricately shaped, centuries-old wood salvaged from riverbeds and his prized collection of over 500 retro- and neo-style motorbikes are a hit amongst tourists visiting An Giang Province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
Nghi’s tourist complex in My Luong Town has been all the rage amongst visitors to An Giang since it opened its doors in early February, steadily making a name for itself as the most alluring destination in the province’s Cho Moi District.
The most notable pieces in Nghi’s collection of natural and manmade oddities are the salvaged wood he’s recovered from the Tien (Front) river over the past decade.
His assortment of lua timber – the Vietnamese name for lumber recovered from riverbeds – included 24 pieces of exquisitely carved Chinese zodiac animals, as well as dozens of uniquely shaped tree stumps.
The collection is so peculiar that it has attracted over 10,000 visitors in the less than three months since the exhibition was launched.
But it’s not just the salvaged wood that is pulling in tourists. Many say Nghi’s hospitality and friendliness magnify the beauty of the collection.
For Nghi, however, the attention is a brand new experience and one he would rather shy away from.
“I don’t want to be in the spotlight. On top of that, I’m not really photogenic and I try not to take pictures with my customers because of my dark skin from years working in the construction industry,” the 52-year-old explained.
Nghi shared that his love for carpentry and wood began during his childhood in My Luong Town – a locale known as a time-honored carpentry village.
As a young man, Nghi would help fishermen whose boats became entangled in sunken logs and stumps. All fishermen needed to do was to give him a call and he would show up on his barge, set them loose, and bring the sunken trees ashore.
Over the years, Nghi searched for ways to make use of the preserved trees but typically wound up just dumping them in a deserted lot on En Islet between An Giang and Dong Thap Provinces.
As the pile grew bigger, with hundreds of tree trunks filling the lot, he realized that collectors were willing to pay a hefty sum to purchase the salvaged logs for use as decorations.
|Lua tree bases and trunks retrieved from riverbeds make an eye-catching sight at Nguyen Van Nghi’s property in An Giang Province, Vietnam|
As he began to make more money off selling the reclaimed tree trunks, he started scouring local rivers for more and even hired skilled craftsmen to carve them into magnificent works of art.
At one point, he even invited a troupe of wood sculptors from the central Hue City to take a shot at carving the preserved wood.
Throughout his first 15 years of salvaging wood, Nghi’s wife had no idea he had slowly been building a collection.
It wasn’t until that he became involved in tourism that she realized just how vast her husband’s work had become.
To launch his exhibition, Nghi spent nine months transforming a two-hectare lot into a tourist complex boasting 50 salvaged tree trunks of various shapes, sizes, and carved patterns depicting both humans and animals.
Some of the trunks which have been left in their original form are so big that over 10 people could stand on their base at once.
Not so surprisingly, given the popularity of his exhibits, Nghi’s complex is hailed by both neighbors and local authorities as an important addition to the tourism industry in Cho Moi District, on par with the tourism offerings in nearby Long Xuyen and Chau Doc Cities.
Still, the magnificent collection on display is just a small portion of Nghi’s riverbed finds.
The remaining items still lay idle on the 10-hectare plot on En Islet, where the ambitious man is halfway through reaching his goal of building another tourist complex to ‘better promote Cho Moi’s allure.’
A mobile passion
Aside from his collection of salvaged wood, Nghi’s tourist complex also hosts a 300-square-meter hall crammed with vintage motorbikes from between 1965 and 1967, as well as classy modern scooters produced by Vespa and Honda.
In total, his collection of motorbikes numbers over 500.
Nghi grew up in a poor family and owning a motorbike always seemed like an unachievable dream.
“Coming from a humble background, I wasn’t even able to afford a bicycle. I remember a man on a Honda Cub 50 once drove by me and it suddenly aroused a desire in me to buy my own,” Nghi recalled.
“That dream pushed me to work non-stop until I earned enough to buy one.”
Such desires led Nghi to work all kinds of odd jobs before finding success as a construction contractor before he turned 30.
He also runs a brick kiln and owns a few barges.
Such success led him to earn enough to begin purchasing a collection of motorbikes and outfitting them with license plates that held lucky numbers.
Currently, all of the bikes in his collection carry plates registered in An Giang and Dong Thap Provinces, his paternal and maternal hometowns.
Currently, most of the bikes are registered to himself, his trusted nephews, and the care of close friends.
Offered in the auction Beyond Legends: Modern Art Evening Sale of Sotheby’s Hong Kong, the painting was sold for a record price of US$3.1 million on April 18.
With a guide price of US$500,000, the price of the painting eventually reached US$2.573 million. After taxes and fees were added, the price totalled US$3.1 million.
This is more than double the previous highest valued auction sale which the painting Khoa Than (Nude) by Le Pho, which sold for US$1.4 million.
Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong was painted by Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) in 1930, when he was an art teacher at Lycée Français de Hue (a French High School in Hue).
As one of the first artists who graduated from the first course of the Fine Arts College of Indochina, or Ecole des Beaux-Art de l’Indochine, in Hanoi he was classified as one of the four most renowned Vietnamese artists based in France, together with Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam and Le Luu.
His reputation was closely associated with silk paintings on the subjects of women, children and everyday life, showcasing typical Asian culture in the early 20th century. This painting, beautifully rendered in the oil medium, is exceptionally rare as the artist devoted himself to painting on silk for most of his career.
According to Sotheby’s description, “a monumental, yet remarkably tender and intimate, Mai Trung Thu’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong stands as the most significant and largest painting by the artist to be offered at auction… Poignantly, the beguiling portrait also captures Mai Thu’s deep admiration of its sitter, a noble lady rumoured to be the artist’s love interest”.
The painting was first exhibited at the Fine Arts College of Indochina in 1930, before travelling to Paris to attend the prestigious 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition, announcing the painter’s entrance into the European art world.
“Mai Thu’s Portrait de Mademoiselle Phuong is one of the most significant and recognisable masterpieces in Vietnamese art history, often likened to Le Pho’s L’age heaureux (The Happy Age). Capturing the lyrical and romantic qualities typical of the early oil paintings of the École’s students, both works were well-received at the 1931 Exposition,” wrote Sotheby’s on its website.
Portrait of Mademoiselle Phương was also featured in the iconic film The Scent of the Green Papaya, a Vietnamese-language film directed by Tran Anh Hung in France in 1993.
Spending the whole life on Hang Trong paintings, Nghien passes all the skills and expertise the job to his son who shares the same passion to this craft. Then the Hang Trong folk painting line will have chance to be well preserved in the future.
Hang Trong paintings, one of the typical folk art of Hanoi, have been preserved by the family of Meritorious Artisan Le Dinh Nghien, a prominent veteran among a few who still passionately pursuing the Enterprise of keeping up an age-old trade so that it would not fall into oblivion.
His son, young artisan Le Hoan is also making endeavor to revive this unique folk painting for his passion as well as devotion to the ancestors and nation.
|Artisan Le Dinh Nghien is striving to keep the age-old trade ò Hang Trong folk painting, so that it would not fall into oblivion . Photo: Que Huong Magazine|
Passion to succeed the family’s trade
Born in 1950, Mr. Nghien came from a family practicing traditional painting in Binh Vong village, Thuong Tin District. When he was a child, his family moved to Hang Trong Street in Hoan Kiem District, the cradle of Hang Trong paintings. His father and grandfather, Le Xuan Que and Le Dinh Lieu, were also famous artists of Hang Trong paintings.
Mr. Nghien was the only of the seven brothers and sisters to pursue the family’s trade. Spending the whole life on Hang Trong paintings, now Mr. Nghien passes all the skills and expertise the job to his son who shares the same passion to this craft.
“Many generations in my family have dedicated to the profession but it is very difficult to find a successor now. It requires a lot of meticulousness, skillfulness, patience and passion,” he said, “It also takes much time to study so it is challenging to hand it down to the next generation. However, I still encourage my son to pursue it”.
|A new generation of Hang Trong folk painting – artisan Le Hoan, the son of renown artisan Le Dinh Nghien. Photo: Police’s Literature Newspaper.|
Otherwise, no one would. I try to guide my son to preserve this folk art just like my father taught me in the old days.” Like his father to his grandfather, since a kid, artist Le Hoan saw his father carefully carving wood blocks and coloring the paintings.
His passion for the art was nurtured like that. Then colors, brushes, woodblocks and paintings have become attached with his life. The value of the folk art and the personality shown in each work is challenging for the artist but also inspires him to preserve the trade, as Mr. Hoan shared his thought.
|The “Four Palaces of the Community”and “Five Tigers” are typical Hang Trong worshiping paintings. Photo: The Factory|
Visiting the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, many people are impressed with beautiful Hang Trong paintings for not only the large size but also the harmony of color and the sophistication in each detail.
They are the joint piece of artwork made by both the father and son, Le Dinh Nghien and Le Hoan. It is Mr. Hoan’s personal achievement for his hard study and work because he did not take any official art courses.
Thanks to his father’s instruction and training, he has drawn many sophisticated and beautiful Hang Trong paintings. Some of his independent works are also displayed at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum where he and his father work.
|The “Five Tigers” painting. Photo: The Factory|
The museum also gives him the opportunity to enhance skills and experiences by sending him to study advanced courses on painting skills and ancient paper painting restoration.
Among his paintings, Mr. Hoan has a special memory of the two of them displayed at the exhibition of Vietnam’s twelves typical lines of folk paintings at Hanoi Museum in 2016.
They were “Four Palaces of the Community” and “Five Tigers”, typical Hang Trong worshiping paintings. Measuring 1.4m x 1.8m, they were considered the largest-ever of its kind. It took Le Hoan and his colleagues several months of hard work to complete it.
The dream of having a solo exhibition
|Dong Ho folk painting requires a lot of meticulousness, skillfulness, patience and passion. Photo: Trang Pham|
As his works have been gradually recognized by the public, Mr. Hoan aims to open a solo exhibition. It will be the highlight of all of his passion and contribution to Hang Trong paintings. It would also be one of the best ways to promote the paintings to the public, especially to the young people.
The succession story of father and son of artists Le Dinh Nghien and Le Hoan shows the strong vitality of Hang Trong folk paintings.
However, the involvement of local authorities and cultural centers together with artists is also necessary for the preservation and development of this line of popular painting.