An exhibition entitled “Vietnamese Folk Painting – Trio Painting Sets” was held recently in Ho Chi Minh City that featured Henri Oger’s widely published folk paintings and the first-time publication of Maurice Durand and Luc Van Tien’s paintings.

It is one of the events within the cultural programme celebrating the 40th anniversary of the France-Vietnam cooperation.

The exhibition displayed 15 pictures on folk themes, including images culled from “Technical Encyclopedia” of Henri Oger and “Folk Paintings” of Maurice Durand together with unpublished wood carvings of Luc Van Tien coloured paintings. These valuable documents are now preserved at the French Academy of the Far East (EFEO).

According to Prof. Phillippe Papin, a former expert of EFEO, all these paintings were created on hand-made wood carvings which were later filled with colours so they are all considered folk paintings.

Maurice Durand, the former head of EFEO in Hanoi, loved collecting Vietnamese folk paintings. In 1956, when he left his office in Vietnam, he took his entire collection back to France. After he passed away, his wife handed it over to the EFEO. Durand’s collection was first published in a book in France in 1960. Then, Prof. Papin clarified and revised some details in four languages, including Vietnamese, French, Han (ancient Chinese characters) and Nom (a demotic script based on Chinese characters formerly used to write Vietnamese). The collection of Maurice Durand varied in themes, such as daily life and nature, religion and beliefs and Vietnamese and Chinese literature.

The drafts of the Luc Van Tien coloured paintings were carved at the end of the 19th century, illustrating Luc Van Tien, a popular work of the blind poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu. During the French colonial period, Eugene Gibert, a Frenchman who was fascinated with the work, assigned a Hue artist called Le Duy to draw illustrations for the entire story. In 1899, Gibert presented the EFEO the picture-book, which was kept in the institute’s archives and went unnoticed for decades.

The exhibition reflected the love and great contribution of French experts to the preservation and promotion of Vietnamese folk heritage.-VNA