An exhibition titled ‘Memories of To River’ by Hanoi-based painter Vu Xuan Dong (1974) is underway at the city’s cultural and artistic space, No 22 Hang Buom Street, Hanoi until May 31.

The space of the “Memories of To River” exhibition. Photo: Nguoi do thi

According to the curator of the exhibition, Nguyen The Son, there used to be plenty of ponds, lakes, and rivers in Hanoi before the French came and built into a modern urban landscape in the early 19th century.

These lakes and rivers were gradually leveled and replaced by straight-line streets. Sharing the same fate, To or so-called To Lich River, once a smooth waterway has also disappeared. 

The historic river that flows through the capital city played a very important role in the spiritual life of Hanoians in the past in the past as it was once considered a protector of ancient Thang Long Citadel or today Hanoi. 

To Lich River was originally a branch of the Red river- the river that gave birth to the city.

This 14-kilometer-length river runs through six districts of Hanoi, starting from Nghia Do Ward, in Cau Giay District and emptying into the Nhue River in Huu Hoa Commune, Thanh Tri District. It was once considered a moat of the ancient Thang Long-Hanoi citadel. Today, the pollution of this river is so high that it has been called a “dead” river. 

An installation of bronze engraving and lacquer artworks themed To River by Vu Xuan Dong. 

“Then, the artist has delved into the story of the river, telling the people about the ill fate of the river,” he stated.

“Vu Xuan Dong’s paintings mirror the relentless influx of immigrants into this city. They are hardworking and diligent like small streams running into big rivers,” he added.

The exhibition features nearly 30 paintings in various materials including oil on canvas, acrylic, gouache, lacquer and bronze engraving were created by the artist for over 20 years.

“Memories of To River” exhibition is an attempt to contribute to the continuity of the artistic flow of the cultural and artistic Space of 22 Hang Buom.