Two ladies and Child (1944), oil and canvas, by ​To Ngoc Van. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - A celebration of the 110th birthday anniversary of To Ngoc Van (1906-1954), one of Vietnam’s most influential painters in the first half of the 20th century, has just been organised by the Vietnam Fine Arts Association.

“Painter To Ngoc Van’s imprint is an outlook that no other painters have, which is integrating his personal feelings, thoughts and trends into his work instead of just representing contemporary matters of life”, says art critic Nguyen Hai Yen at the celebration.

“His motto is: A painting is not only beautiful in real life but also in the manifestation of its creator’s inner feelings. Van can be seen embarking on expressing the role of an artist, not an inscriber of facts, in his works,” she added.

Graduating from the Indochina Fine Arts College, To Ngoc Van influenced many Vietnamese painters of later generations and has been greatly appreciated by the art circle abroad. He was a talented painter and became famous before the August Revolution in 1945, with his oil, lacquer and silk paintings.

He was one of the pioneering painters to assimilate Western methods in a creative way, and combined them with his inheritance of national artistic traditions. He left us a number of works of high artistic value including Thieu Nu Ben Hoa Hue (Young Woman with Lilly) in 1943, Thuyen Tren Song Huong (Boats on the Perfume River) in 1935 or Thieu Nu Ben Hoa Sen (Woman by a Lotus) in 1944.

Following the National Resistance by President Ho Chi Minh, To Ngoc Van and other renowned Vietnamese artists left Hanoi for the liberated area and joined the artistic circle where he devoted all his talent and experience to make his contribution to the long war. Also during that period, he created many lacquer paintings and sketches portraying the landscapes and lives of northwestern Vietnam as well as watercolour paintings depicting the land reform in 1953.

Together with painter Nguyen Do Cung (1912-1977), To Ngoc Van was one of the artists that laid the foundation for Vietnam’s Theory and Criticism of Arts, contributing to the many talented painters of the first generation of Vietnam’s Arts.

He was unfortunately killed on his way to Dien Bien Phu at the age of 48.

He was one of eight top-notch Vietnamese painters to be awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize for Literature and Art and the Independent Order, 1st class in 1996. — VNA