Silk painting is a popular form of art that has existed in Vietnam for many years. It originated from an earlier art form of drawing and painting on rice paper. Silk painting is a unique medium for artists to express Vietnam’s mystique and charm into their works.
This unique painting style emphasizes softness, grace and elegance as well as flexibility of style. Much of the art’s beauty and success comes down to the quality of silk being used. Not only is the silk canvas painted on like most other canvases, it also serves as a background and ‘starting point’ for the painting itself.
Most Vietnamese silk paintings portray Vietnam’s countryside and natural landscapes. Pagodas, temples or scenes of daily life are also popular subjects. The silk’s fabric and glossiness are fully taken advantage of by skilled painters. Human faces, bodies of water and the sky are purposely not painted on, allowing the artists to bring out these attributes using the silk’s texture. Whatever style they utilize or skill level they may possess, artists must have a deep knowledge of different types of silk and how to make the most of each type’s unique glossiness and texture. This is paramount in creating a successful work.
Vietnamese silk painting reached its highest period of success during the 1930’s. Several works were on display at the International Fine Arts Exhibition in Paris in 1931. Critiques were impressed by the style’s qualities, which were different from the oil paint based artwork common in Europe and its unique characteristics and color transparency that differentiated it from Chinese and Japanese silk paintings. Several Vietnamese silk paintings were awarded prizes at the art exhibition. This was the first time in which Vietnamese paintings had a profound impact internationally. The artists of these paintings were graduates of the Indochina Art College in Hanoi (now called Hanoi University of Fine Arts), founded by French painter Victor Tardieu in 1925.
After years of isolation, Hanoi art is now opening up to the world again and is fast becoming one of the most fashionable art centers in Asia. Exotissimo’s Art Tour of Hanoi day trip takes you to some of the city’s finest art galleries and museums as well as some quirky galleries and arty hang-outs far from the regular tourist trail. This day trip is a great extension to The Best of Northern Vietnam tour where you will explore Hanoi along with the region’s colorful hill tribes and giant limestone karsts. Visit our Vietnam tours page for other suggested trips into this wonderful and varied country.
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