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Book explores C20th Vietnamese art history

Monday, 6 December, 2010

HCMCITY — Veteran art critic and painter Nguyen Quan's recently published book that documents trends in 20th century art in Viet Nam is a comprehensive history that includes more than 200 black-and-white and colour images.

The 400-page book, My Thuat Viet Nam The Ky 20 (Vietnamese Fine Arts during the 20th Century), has four chapters and two addenda of photos that feature different styles of painting by talented artists of the last century.

In the book's first chapter, Nhung Nam Dau The Ky 20 (First Years of the 20th Century), Quan reviews the country's fine arts activities and trends set by local artists during the period.

The role of the Indochine Fine Arts School in Ha Noi between 1925 and 1945, recognised as the country's first fine arts school established by the French, is highlighted in chapter two.

In the following chapter, contemporary art and its most important artists who worked during the French and American wars, from 1945 to 1975, are displayed.

New trends created by young artists in the doi moi (renewal) period are included in the book's final chapter.

The works of dozens of leading artists, such as Nguyen Phan Chanh, Nguyen Gia Tri, Le Quoc Loc, To Ngoc Van, Tran Van Caøn, Nguyen Tuong Lan and Le Pho, are described and critiqued by Quan.

The Vietnamese traditional arts of oil painting and lacquer are also highlighted in the book.

Born in 1948 in Phu Tho Province, Quan began his love for painting at an early age and studied art by himself.

He worked as a teacher of German at the Ha Noi Fine Arts University, after graduating in mathematics and cybernetics from Merseburg University in Germany in 1971.

His first critique on the fine arts was published in the Ha Noi-based Literature and Arts magazine in 1976.

He also spent six years working as a lecturer in fine arts history and critical studies for the Viet Nam University of Fine Arts in Ha Noi.

From 1986 to 1989, he was editor-in-chief of Fine Arts Magazine and the Ha Noi Fine Arts Publishing House.

In 1995, he moved to live and work as a free-lance artist and art critic in HCM City.

Many of his paintings were displayed and stored by museums and collectors in Singapore, Japan and Viet Nam.

Published by the Tri Thuc (Knowledge) Publishing House, Quan's My Thuat Viet Nam The Ky 20 sells for VND117,000 (US$5.6) and is available at bookstores in HCM City and Ha Noi. — VNS