A Hang Trong folk painting (Photo: organising board)

Hanoi (VNA) – An exhibition of folk paintings originating from different regions of the country opened last week in Hanoi.

During the opening ceremony, artisans Nguyen Dang Che, Nguyen Dang Giap and Le Dinh Nghien printed and presented Dong Ho and Hang Trong folk paintings for visitors.

The event, a collaboration between the Hanoi Museum and the Hanoi Ceramics Museum, provides art lovers, history buffs and culture enthusiasts a look at paintings and sculptures that were created when few people had access to institutional learning and were generally self-taught.

The exhibition introduces the quintessence of 12 folk painting genres with various works brought by collector Nguyen Thi Thu Hoa, Director of the Hanoi Ceramics Museum.

Many ancient Buddhist objects of worship, maps, posters and printing tools are on display, illustrating the process of making folk paintings.

Besides showcasing some famous works such as Dong Ho and Hang Trong, the exhibition also shows Do The Nam Bo (spiritual paintings, burned to pray for health), Sinh Village paintings originating from Phu Vang District of Hue City in about the 15th century, Goi Vai (paintings with a silk background and 3D details produced by folding silk) and Thap Vat (spiritual paintings printed from sculpted-wooden planks, only in black and white, which are burned for the dead).

The exhibition will also feature colourful southern glass paintings, which came to Vietnam in the early 20th century when Chinese immigrants opened glass shops in Saigon (the former name of HCM City).

In the 1920s, the art form developed rapidly along with other crafts, spreading throughout six southern provinces. Mass produced products on religious themes, celebrations and interior decorative painting were developed. Some glass paintings were drawn with multi-coloured paints, or with mother of pearl, and combined with coatings of mercury.

Fine folk arts are an integral part of Vietnamese culture, however, many folk painting genres have been lost, according to Nguyen Tien Da, Director of the Hanoi Museum.

“We cultural activists and researchers are nervous about the fact that so many folk painting genres now ‘live’ only in the museum,” he said.

“We just know about them through rare old paintings and printing tools. But no one knows how to paint and print them. These objects have their own bodies, souls and stories but they have no vitality in contemporary life.”

“So we have organised this exhibition with the aim of introducing people to these traditional arts. We hope to inspire people to revive folk painting.”-VNA