Straddling two centuries: 90-year-old artist holds first solo exhibition


Thirty works by the doyen of Vietnamese artists, Mong Bich, constituting her first ever solo exhibition, is now open in Hanoi.

Titled “Between Two Centuries,” the exhibition featuring silk paintings, watercolors and sketches is being held at the French Institute in Hanoi from October 22 to November 22.

Portraits of painter Tran Van Can, a beggar Bich met on the street, or a scene from her village are among the works on display. Art lovers also have the opportunity to listen to the stories behind each work narrated by the painter herself.

One of her two sons, artist Bui Hoai Mai, says this of his mother: “Her painting is neither a political tool, nor a means of subsistence or a means of leaving a personal mark. For her, painting is simply the love of beauty and perseverance behind the easel.”

Em Be Han Quoc (South Korean Girl) by Mong Bich. Photo courtesy of the exhibition.

“Em Be Han Quoc” (South Korean Baby) by Mong Bich. Photo courtesy of the exhibition.

Bich is an embodiment of change in Vietnamese art and history over the past century, Professor Nora Taylor of the Chicago Fine Arts Academy once said.

She was born in Hanoi in 1931 and graduated from Hanoi College of Fine Arts in 1970.

Artist Mong Bich. Photo courtesy of the LEspace.

Artist Mong Bich. Photo courtesy of the L’Espace.

Bich is among the few female artists of her time to have won major awards. Her painting “Me Va Con” (Mother And Child) won first prize at a Viet Bac Interzone Department of Culture exhibit in 1961, while “Ba Gia” (Old Grandmother) won the top prize at the Vietnam Fine Arts Association show in 1993.