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Artist To Ngoc Van - teacher of the revolutionary fine arts

April 11, 2014          3165 views

(Cinet)- Not only a talented painter, To Ngoc Van was also an outstanding lecturer and a respectable teacher of the first generation of painters in the revolutionary fine arts.

The painting “Two girls and a child” .The painting “Two girls and a child” .

To Ngoc Van was born in Hanoi, This painter studied for five years at the Indochina Fine Arts College (1922-1931), To Ngoc Van was considered one of the first painters using oil paint in art works in Vietnam. His paintings such as "Bac Ho o Bac Bo Phu" (President Ho Chi Minh in Tonkin Palace), "Thuyen tren song Huong," (Boat on Perfume River), "Thieu nu ben hoa hue" (Young woman by tuberose) etc. and sketches describing the rural landscapes and the resistance war against the French show a special talent, a sensitive soul, an enthusiastic heart and a patriotism.

He was known as a teacher of the revolutionary fine arts,  it was because he had a lot of contribution in the battle of Dien Bien Phu. In many places, from the Central Highlands to Viet Bac (Northern Vietnam), a pleasant artist was seen at times painting a poster on a patch of wall to inspire the resistance; masking and decorating a folding stage; printing leaflets under a curtain of jungle leaves; running the Resistance Culture Group; or managing the reorganisation of the Fine Arts College (1949-1950).

To Ngoc Van was born on December 15, 1906, in Hanoi, but his native land is Xuan Cau Village, Van Giang District, Hung Yen Province. To Ngoc Van left the Buoi Secondary School early to study the art. He then entered the Indochina Fine Arts College to learn oil painting in the 1926-1931 period. His talent was soon recognised right on the first days in the college. Three of his works then "Anh mat troi" (Sunlight). "Bui chuoi ngoai nang" (Banana bush in the sunshine) and "Troi diu" (It’s a mild sky) attracted public attention.

Dynamic and keen to learn, he was compelled by his love to art to read every book, magazine or newspaper article related to arts that he was able to get his hands on. Each picture, be it a folk print of Dong Ho or Hang Trong, a Japanese wood carving, a Chinese watercolour, an Ajanta fresco, a modern Western painting by Manet, Gaugin, Van Gogh or Matisse, filled the soul of the art-loving young man. He studied oil painiting but he also tried other mediums such as silk painting, wood carving and frescoes.

Graduating from the Indochinese Fine Arts College, To Ngoc Van was passionate about the beauty of the diverse spectrum of colours. His skills had been perfected, his later style was basically established. There was a keen sculptor in him who was very sensitive to full, round and graceful figures, especially to the beauty of the female form. 

To Ngoc Van received valuable prizes:
Gold Medal at Colony Exhibition in 1931
Certificate of Honorary Commendation at French painters’ exhibition in 1932

The first prize at the National Fine Arts in 1954

The Ho Chi Minh prize for Literature and Art in 1996

First - Class Independence Medal

In 2013, the painting “Two girls and a child” has just been recognized as the national treasure.




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