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Dutch diplomat donates Vietnamese paintings to national museum

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum has received two paintings from former deputy ambassador Ellen Berends of the Netherlands to Vietnam.
Painting Kisses of Love by artist Phung Pham. — Photo coutersy of VNAM

The ambassador collected the two lacquer paintings Kiêu Hãnh (Proud) and Những Nụ Hôn Tình Yêu (Kisses of Love) when she worked in Vietnam from 1997-2001. 

She fell in love with the Vietnamese country, landscape, people and fine arts while she was in the country. She bought some lacquer paintings by artist Phung Pham, and she carried the paintings with her in her later terms as ambassador to many other countries in the world. 

Her memories and her love for Vietnam have never faded away, although she left the country more than 20 years ago. She met the Vietnamese ambassador to the Netherlands in 2021 to express her wish to donate the paintings to Vietnamese people. 

The painting Proud (1998) sized 90cm by 60cm, depicts the beauty of a young woman in an ethnic costume with two main colours black and white.  

Veteran artist Phung Pham (left) and Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts Director Nguyen Anh Minh at the ceremony. — Photo coutersy of VNAM

Kisses of Love (2000) is a set of four panels with bright tones of yellow, green and blue expressing shades of love. The artist was inspired by the folk style of quartet painting and the culture of the northern ethnic groups to draw vivid and lively lines.  

"I'm moved to see my paintings again," said artist Phung Pham at the receiving ceremony at the museum. "It is great to be in the museum's collection."

Pham was born in 1932 in Vinh Yen, the northern province of Vinh Phuc. He joined the revolution very early with many achievements and was sent to study abroad in China. 

In 1955, he returned home to work as an elementary school principal. But his love of painting pushed him to give up his education career to enroll in the Yet Kieu Fine Arts School. 

After graduating, he was assigned to work at the Vietnam Animation Studio. During his career, he has won many prestigious fine arts awards, including First Prize in Graphics in 1985 and 1990.

What is immediately recognisable in his paintings, whether lacquer or woodcarving, is that he used decorative elements as the main decoration of all his paintings. He uses careful strokes for shapes, spaces and colour. 

He followed it through and absorbed it without getting bored. That is the characteristic that makes his name.

His works have been displayed in the annual International Graphic Exhibition in Germany, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and Norway. He also participated in cultural exchange events in the US, Japan and South Korea.

In 2006, he held a solo exhibition, At the Height of Summer, at Zee Stone Gallery in Hong Kong.

At the ceremony, the museum's representative expressed respect for former deputy ambassador Berends and thanked the Vietnamese ambassador to the Netherlands, Pham Viet Anh, for his effort to receive the paintings. 

Source: Vietnam News


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