A concert at the Hanoi Opera House on National Day
will celebrate the capital city. To complement the musical works about Hanoi or
composed by Hanoians, the noted painter Dao Hai Phong has contributed 30 oil
paintings of his hometown. The paintings will be hung in the foyer of the Hanoi
Phong talked with VietNamNet about the exhibition and concert.
VietNamNet: What persuaded you to take part in the VietNamNet concert on
National Day (September 2), which this year is celebrating Hanoi’s 1000th
Artist Dao Hai Phong: I was born and grew up in Hanoi so it is natural that I
paint it. A creative painter – which I try to be -- can wake up the beauty
that’s all around us in this city.
VietNamNet: How will be Hanoi’s beauty be revealed in the 30 paintings which
will be showcased at the VietNamNet concert?
Phong: On such occasions, we Vietnamese often rely on propaganda art. This time,
there’s a great opportunity to combine music and art to bring a special
experience to the audience.
VietNamNet: When did you start painting Hanoi city scenes? Will the ones you’ve
selected show how your work has evolved?
Phong: I began painting Hanoi subjects very early, following in the footsteps of
lots of other painters. Drawing on my feelings, my love for this town, I draw a
Hanoi with sunny alleys, rainy streets and old walls, but not any specific
locations. Like the sound of my mom calling me for dinner when I was young,
these are places that live in my memory.
I roamed about when I was a kid. If there was a shower, I’d take shelter under
the awning of any house near at hand. Or, on rainy days, my dad would take me on
his bicycle, the two of us sharing one poncho. I’d ask him, “Dad, what’s this
street?” All these memories and feelings go into my paintings, and so I hope
they’ll resonate with those who view them.
VietNamNet: Serious music is often ineptly commercialized, and authentic
paintings are copied badly. Do we dare think that the meeting between paintings
and music on National Day will help people have a better appreciation of real
Phong: I haven’t taken part in many ‘commercial’ events. I am hoping that the
‘Things Everlasting’ program that VietNamNet has organized will be an occasion
that celebrates true art values, the so-called “academic arts,” and makes them
accessible to the public. I hope that after this event, the public will ask
themselves “why do we neglect art like this”?
VietNamNet: So, why did you title your exhibition “Feelings about Hanoi”?
Phong: Frankly, I’ve built my own style in these oil paintings, one that has
been recognized by many exhibitions at home and abroad. My Hanoi today is not
specific. It is just debris from the past, a Hanoi of my childhood. The audience
may also feel they have seen this Hanoi somewhere. You may see yourself, me and
your friends in these paintings. Anyone who is looking for a specific place will
be disappointed, though.
VietNamNet: Many famous artists have painted Hanoi. If someone were to ask you
‘what is Dao Hai Phong’s Hanoi?’ what would you say?
Phong: The best-known Hanoi paintings are by the great artist Bùi Xuân Phái.
Many artists, myself included, have been inspired by his style.
Phai’s Hanoi streets are specific streets. My Hanoi is imaginary, a collage of
memories; they are Dao Hai Phong’s feelings about Hanoi.