A veteran artist in a new exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City evokes beauty, nostalgia and a sense of sadness for disappearing scenes and traditions in Vietnam.

Van Y, a graduate from the College of Fine Arts of Gia Dinh in Sai Gon (former name of Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975, showcases his best works in the "Dau Xua" (Traces of Old Times) exhibition at Tu Do Gallery.

"Dau Xua" takes viewers back to the lyrical and romantic images of Sai Gon and southern Vietnam in old times - A charming young girl, prominent on a stylized backdrop of Sai Gon’s symbolic constructions, streets, rivers… twinkling with colorful lights (Sai Gon street), Sai Gon with its narrow deep alleys.

Most of the 20 oil on canvas paintings, which were created between 2010 and 2013, depict rural landscapes and women in different moods. Some of the highlights of the exhibition are "Thieu Nu Va Meo" (Young Girl & a Cat), "Hoai Co" (Nostalgia), "Ganh Hoa" (Carrying Flowers) and "Dau Xua" (Traces of Old Times) that include the colours of yellow, red, white and brown.

Some of the lighter-coloured paintings feature young women, beautiful in the traditional ao dai, in states of joyfulness and sadness, and others show memories of life and people. Through Van Y's art, viewers feel nostalgic for times of the past, but they acknowledgethat society is changing.

"Van Y finds unlimited sources of inspiration in old houses, beautiful women and flowers in small streets. Colours are his language," artist and collector Thu Ha, owner of the gallery, said.

In the oil on canvas painting "Thieu Nu Va Meo", the artist uses only white and red to depict a young girl in ao dai sitting with a small cat in a sad and lonely state. The work's meaning and colours left a strong impression on viewers.

Van Y reconciles the two methods of creation by both old masters, using both oil and lacquer for his works. A key technique of this series was that he first made the composition of colors at background stage. Therefore, the backgrounds are abundant and diverse. Images of human and landscape were introduced later, and harmonized with the color composition of background.

"Being born in Sai Gon, the city is always in my heart and in my veins deeply so I just use my feelings and love for the city and have no need for the quest to find Saigon’s soul like other artists, " the 62-year-old artist was quoted by the The Saigon Times as saying.

A member of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, Van Y has held several solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad. "Dau Xua" is his sixth solo exhibition in the city which will run until November 24.-VNA