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Le Van Xuong:

A soulkeeper of old Hanoi

(VLR) Gentle strokes keeping the soul of an old Hanoi. While contemplating paintings by the painter Le Van Xuong, they are filled with feelings and emotions- memories of an old Hanoi with roads, with side-walk cafes and with mossy porches…

A talented quiet painter

We visited the family of the painter Le Van Xuong in a sunny day of Saigon. His wife- the writer Dieu Tien together with his little daughter- the art collector Le Y Lan welcomed us. On behalf of the Board of Editors, I gave them a bouquet of roses- as a warm friendly greeting. Looking at them with joy, she respectfully received the flowers...

Although, having thousands of works painted with various materials, it seems that the name of the painter Le Van Xuong (1917-1988) has not very well-known by collectors and people.

At the end of September 2018, the exhibition “A Magic Thing” carried out by art collector Le Y Lan and the fine-art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi- is an important milestone- a chance for people to return to the past, to contemplate paintings of the talented painter, who made the paintings with his love of beauty and his passion…

The writer Dieu Tien is not only a wife, a good friend but also his soul and the connection to his works- she helps his painting lovers feel his paintings and understand him more. She is a “living book” of the life of Xuong’s.

She had been his model many times. While she sat by his side seeing him working, she softly read some poems and sang some word. She said: “Van Xuong was a really lovable one. He loved to play, he loved to paint; he loved beauty and sweet words. He worked with full of passion- a workaholic- especially works serving arts.”

The painting that made the name of the painter was the silk painting “Thieu nu” (Young girl) depicting Le Y Lan. The painting was sold at USD 22,500 by Lythi Auction. Talking about the painting, Y Lan remembered :”I was hugging a cat and Dad told me to sit down for him to paint. It seemed that he was familiar with my facial figures and my sitting position, he made it quickly”.

Making a painting quickly without any correction was his great skill. “Long ago, we fell in love with each other thanks to paintings. He drew a painting with chalk so quickly. How enjoyable to see his painting,” remembered the writer Dieu Tien. In paintings, hidden beauty of a person showed so beautifully that she had to utter with surprise “Oh, am I that beautiful?”

Not only being a good painter, Xuong could play many musical instrument as violin, piano, accordion, mandolin and Hawaiian guitar… Similarly, his children and grandchildren have been able to play many musical instrument as well and achieved high ranks at contests in Vietnam and in foreign countries. Besides, Xuong was extremely good at sports, he gained awards and good records in various fields as swimming, cross-country running, tennis, pingpong, boxing and bike racing…

He who drew Hanoi with love and passion

The family treated us a Hanoi specialty- bun thang by Dieu Tien. I have tried the dish many times, but it was completely different. Only those who know all about Hanoi, about Hanoi delicacy can make the dish with distinctive taste. And in the meal, we had more stories about the painter…

He had many great works for he loved Hanoi. Like the composer Pham Duy, he could not have his great works without love. A painter has to love his character, sometimes has to argue with her… no matter how, they are memories.

Le Van Xuong started to have paintings about Hanoi in the 1950s. He painted Hanoi earlier than Bui Xuan Phai- who is famous for paintings about ancient Hanoi town.

He had many great works for he loved Hanoi. Like the composer Pham Duy, he could not have his great works without love. A painter has to love his character, sometimes has to argue with her or him… no matter how, they are memories.

Paintings about Hanoi by Le Van Xuong bring viewers a gentle, peaceful feelings. Life is the same everywhere. Hanoi in his paintings was made more beautiful, more natural as a poem surviving time with a peaceful beauty. Paintings that depict sceneries, climate, people and their own souls.

Saying goodbye to the family, we promise to come back in the coming time. Not only to see paintings by Le Van Xuong or try a delicacy of Hanoi, we come back for more stories about the talented painter, who painted with love and passion.

Thụy Hậu

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