The first-ever caricature festival will be held in Ho Chi Minh City to bring the art closer to the public and provide a comic playground for professional caricaturists and the audience.

This was stated by the organiser of the festival, The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) newspaper.

The events in the festival, to be held on April 6, include an exhibition of this year's Rong Tre (Bamboo Dragon) Journalism Caricature contest featuring 140 finalist entries, a live portrait caricature contest for the audience by noted caricaturists, a workshop on Vietnam's caricature and a graffiti art performance by a group led by artist Le Hao. The award ceremony for this year's Bamboo Dragon contest will also be held at the festival.

The event will be organised between 2.30pm and 8pm at the Applied Contemporary Arts Centre, 3A Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1.

The fourth biennial caricature contest saw 420 entries by artists from across the country under a free theme with the purpose of "exchanging smiles".

The entries can be painted by both Vietnamese and foreigners living in the country and have been published or are designed to be published in various printed and online newspapers and magazines throughout the country between January 31, 2012 and February 14, 2014.

The jury will give a first prize of 15 million VND (710 USD), two second prizes, two third prizes, five encouragement prizes and a special prize by the Vietnam Journalists' Association.

A Public Choice Prize will be given to the winner of a vote by the audience at The jury includes caricaturist Ly Truc Dung (chairman), journalist Ha Minh Hue (vice chairman of Vietnam Journalists' Association), journalist Ngo Ha Thai (deputy general director of Vietnam News Agency) and painter Nguyen Thanh Chuong (chairman of Art Council of Graphic Field, Vietnam Fine Arts Association). Art critic Nguyen Quan and painters Tran Minh Dung (pen name Nhop) and Le Phuong (LEO) are also members of the jury.

According to journalist Hue, this year's entries reflected all angles of social life.

"Many of the entries bear deep meanings, which make people laugh and think twice at the same time," he said.

Painter Chuong remarked that the free topic this year attracted a large number of entries, which were varied in both form and content.

"Yet this year, the caricatures on the professional ethics of physicians outnumber other topics," he said, "This is a hot topic in today's society. Hence, we can consider Bamboo Dragon contest a "thermometer" for the society (featuring hot topics of the society)."

Painter Nhop stated he was impressed with the fresh initiative of a new caricaturist who has succeeded in displaying all skills of caricature: saving words, speaking through images and expressing popular issues that are difficult to express in words.

An initiative of Sports & Culture newspaper, the contest aims at promoting journalism caricature in the country.-VNA