A feast of 137 works from six established artists are on display at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, exploring daily life under the theme "The Color of the South" for the pleasure of all art lovers.

Four of the artists - Duong Sen (1949), Le Xuan Chieu (1956), Luong Khanh Toan (1955) and Nguyen Dang Khoat (1952), all aged between 57 and 64 - were born in northern Vietnam and later moved to the southern hub.

Ho Minh Quan (1961), from Hue city, presents 13 large oil paintings with a predominance of blues and greens that mostly depict young plants in Spring.

Nguyen Dam Thuy (1967), the youngest and only woman in the group, is from Ben Tre province. Her 23 large oil paintings reflect daily life and portray womanhood. Sen is a master of lacquer and has 33 works featuring the sea or life in the Mekong Delta.

Khoat uses bright colours in his 29 oil paintings about the North featuring memories of his childhood. Meanwhile, Toan has 10 40x60cm lacquer paintings depicting a variety of landscapes.

For over a century, lacquer has played a significant role in traditional Vietnamese painting. Vietnam’s lacquer paintings have earned special attention globally because it strongly expresses national characteristics.

The paintings themselves are using a variety of materials in addition to the lacquer: mother of pearl, eggs, shells, gold leaves, and silver dust, sand, epoxy and clay, which are inlaid.

Therefore, painting with lacquer takes a long and complex process requiring great skill and patience. It may take several months, depending on the technique used and the number of layers of lacquer applied.

It involves the application of many layers of lacquer on a prepared wooden board, allowing each to dry in turn, and finally polishing the painting with pumice to reveal whatever colours the artist desires in different areas of the painting.

Other materials used include eggshell to produce a white color, mother-of-pearl, gold and silver leaf. The final result is smooth and durable and will not crack due to fluctuations of temperature or humidity.

Chieu's 29 works straddle several genres - multi-media, lacquer, silk, wood carving, and pastel. "Pastel and silk are delicate materials but when mixed they can create long-lasting works," Chieu said. His works are about people living in the northern mountains.

The exhibition, the sixth by the group held annually in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, will run at the museum until 18 November.-VNA