Outrage over plan to demolish historic street art

Two wall paintings made in the early 1980s at the Bach Mai-Minh Khai crossroads in Hanoi's Hai Ba Trung District will soon be knocked down for a new road project.

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Outrage over plan to demolish historic street art
URBAN ART: The painting by Truong Sinh in the 1980s features various labourers, including intellectuals, factory workers, farmers and soldiers. VNS Photos Doan Tung

Artists and researchers have expressed outrage over the plan as the paintings are important artefacts from a historic period in the country’s development.

Researcher Khuat Tan Hung posted images of the two paintings on his facebook page, among other relics on Dai La Street that will be destroyed for the infrastructure project.

“The two wall paintings were made by painter Truong Sinh in the 1980s,” the director of the Urban Heritage of the Architecture Faculty, Ha Noi Architectural University, wrote. “More importantly, they are the only two large paintings remaining in the city.”

Painter Truong Thanh, son of painter Truong Sinh, confirmed that the two paintings, one on cement and the other a mosaic made of hundreds of ceramic pieces, were made in 1983-84.
Before those pieces, his father made another at O Cho Dua Junction – a busy area in Hanoi.

A bronze basrelief featuring intellectuals, factory workers, farmers and soldiers was erected at Yen Phu Junction.

“I think all paintings have a place in history,” architect Nguyen Truong Quy, who has written various essays on the city, told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper in an interview. “They are evidence of a historic period that researchers would appreciate. Taking the genre into consideration, this is a rare kind of urban art work in Hanoi.”

Writer Nguyen Ngoc Tien said that the most important value of the paintings is their meaning praising various labourers.

Architect Quy said the two paintings shows construction and materials of the 1980s.


The mosaic made with pieces of coloured tiles features a woman in áo dài (traditional long dress), expressing romance and optimism in the country's economic difficult period, Quy said.

“They are representatives of a time that still influences today’s Hanoi,” he said. “They are works of street art.”

Outrage over plan to demolish historic street art
PIECE OF HISTORY: The painting made of colourful pieces of tiles featuring a woman in áo dài.

Architect Hung said the two paintings marked a development period of establishing socialism in Vietnam.

“People are busy doing something else and do not care about the value of the two paintings,” Hung said. “They are beautiful if we compare them to today’s ceramic road along the Hong (Red) River dyke.”

Quy suggested keeping the whole wall with the paintings on and moving them to a museum or park.

“They are still in good condition,” Quy said. “I think moving the walls with the paintings to a new space is worth doing and will reflect our attitude to the city’s history.”

Researcher Hung suggested keeping the paintings as they are.

“If necessary we can organise a contest to design an island, even in the middle of the new road,” he said.


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