At the beginning of the modern times, first half of the 20th century, there have been in Vietnam deep and through changes in all fields: polity, economy, culture and society. As the other fields, Vietnamese culture was renewed in order to approach western civilization.
Nevertheless, there always existed in art a joining thread from national tradition to modernity which maintained the national cultural identification.
Since the start of the 20th century, there appeared some first oil paintings, prior by Le Huy Mien, and later by Thang Tran Phenh. But until 1925, the “Ecole superieure de Beaux Arts D’indochine” was founded to teach cognitions of western modern aesthetics to the use of mediums of oil painting etc.… which were so alien to Eastern arts.
Soon after, Vietnamese modern paintings and sculptures came into being and firmly developed. This was a great turning point marking the appearance of a new form of artworks created by well-known painters, which is parallel with the traditional ones made by anonymous artisans.
Many new painters of this stage, with their talents and by working industriously and creatively has discovered the marvelous abilities of lacquer painting and got great experience in painting on silk or marking woodcuts in a very typical way of Vietnam.
From the years of 1930s to 1945, though in any tendency they worked or with any kind of materials they used. These generations of painters represented by Nguyen Phan Chanh, Nguyen Gia Tri, To Ngoc Van, Tran Van Can, Nguyen Do Cung…, they have affirmed themselves and contributed an important part to the formation of the new art with many masterpieces imparted with Vietnamese aesthetic full of nationalities, modernity and very much personal characteristics as well.
By Pham Tuyen