Youth Dialogue on Hang Trong Folk Art

Young artists in Hanoi showcase their limitless creativity through modern interpretations of Hang Trong folk paintings.


The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Dialog with Hang Trong Folk Painting”. This exhibition, running until July 31, 2023, showcases a collection of artworks by talented young painters participating in the “From Tradition to Tradition” project.

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 Young visitors to “Dialog with Hang Trong Folk Painting” exhibition. Photo: Temple of Literature

The exhibition showcases a collection of 29 Hang Trong folk paintings on Do (poonah) paper, curated by collector Nguyen Quang Trung. In addition, visitors can also admire 38 artworks created by 22 talented young artists. These contemporary pieces are influenced by the traditional Hang Trong style and are expertly executed on silk or Do paper, using oils or lacquer as the medium.

Situated in the front hall of the prestigious Imperial Academy, these captivating artworks effortlessly combine tradition and modernity, captivating and engaging visitors. The focal point of this intriguing display is the exquisite collection of Hang Trong paintings.

Hang Trong folk paintings showcase the cultural and religious aspects of Vietnamese life, embodying the essence of tradition and spirituality. Even the contemporary works by the new generation exhibit a unique Hang Trong aura, with improvised variations that pay homage to the rich artistic heritage of the region.

Among the emerging painters, Doan Thi Hong Duong has skillfully reimagined the renowned Hang Trong pair of Vinh Hoa and Phu Quy, symbolizing High Position and Great Wealth. Using two layers of delicate transparent silk, Duong achieves a striking depth in her artwork. What sets her creation apart is the meticulous hand-embroidery of the words ‘Vinh Hoa’ and ‘Phu Quy’, seamlessly blending Vietnamese folk painting with the timeless art of traditional embroidery.

Hoang Thi Viet Huong skillfully depicts the intricate details of Hang Trong worship paintings on silk. Her series of works focuses on three of the 36 trance-ritual gods: Cau Be Doi Ngang (Little Boy of Doi Ngang), Co Be Thac Bo (Little Girl of Thac Bo), and Co Chin (The 9th Lady).

Art paintings titled “Can 2” inspired by Hang Trong folk painting and Mother Goddess worship by Hoang Thi Viet Huong

Trieu Minh Hang skillfully utilized the Hang Trong style, known for its intricate peacock depictions, to create a magnificent artwork called “Phuong Vu” or “Phoenix Dance”. This masterpiece showcases the elegance of two phoenixes gracefully entwined in a circular dance, symbolizing the harmonious balance between yin and yang. To achieve this, Trieu Minh Hang applied gold and silver brushstrokes and employed elaborate coating techniques in the lacquer art medium.

Pham Thuy Tien beautifully translated the traditional artwork depicting two princesses, Quynh Hoa and Que Hoa, who are revered as saints in the Mother Goddess of Nine Heavens tradition. She transformed their portraits into a stunning composite paper collage known as Ha Pham or Descending on Earth.

Gai Nam Dan – Lacquer Painting

Gai Nam Dan – Tiger Year Girls

Gai Nam Dan is a lacquer painting by artist Trieu Khac Tien, inspired by the art piece Bach Ho or White Tiger. The painting embraces abstract expressionism and depicts the brave and energetic yet still feminine women who are born in the year of the Tiger.

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For almost ten years, Hang Trong folk painting has served as a notable inspiration for students at the esteemed Hanoi University of Fine Arts. Under the guidance of esteemed painter Nguyen The Son, who not only acts as exhibition curator but also as a teacher, young artists have embarked on an endeavor known as “From Tradition to Tradition”. Over the course of three years, this project has allowed artists to delve into the artistic merits of not just Hang Trong folk painting, but also other Vietnamese cultural customs. Furthermore, through various exhibition editions, the young artists have been encouraged to foster their individual creativity by immersing themselves in research and learning traditional knowledge and techniques associated with Hang Trong folk painting.

 The lacquer painting Gai Nam Dan (Tiger Year Girls) by Trieu Khac Tien

Experience the unique and creative world of art with Le Dinh Nghien, a skilled artisan. Join our study sessions where he will share his techniques and passion for the art. Explore the Fine Arts Museum and communal houses on our field trips, gaining inspiration for visualization. From traditional painting materials like silk, Do paper, lacquer, and oil paint, to modern forms of expression such as digital graphics, design, and arrangement, our program will expand your artistic horizons.

“The exhibition spaces are filled with traditional features such as the Nam Huong Communal House, the former Cantonese Assembly Hall, and the front hall of the Imperial Academy at the Temple of Literature. These spaces serve as a great source of inspiration for both teachers and students, adding a unique appeal to each exhibition in a fresh and contextual environment,” commented Nghiem.

The From Tradition to Tradition project was officially launched in 2020 and consists of seven exceptional exhibitions held in culturally significant locations. The first exhibition, titled From Tradition to Tradition, takes place at the renowned Nam Huong Communal House, situated at 75 Hang Trong Street. Subsequent exhibitions in the project include Hang Trong Paintings for Tet in 2021, Tiger Roaming the Street in 2022, and Fairyland Exposition in 2022. These remarkable exhibitions will be held at the esteemed Arts and Cultural Center, located at 22 Hang Buom Street.

 The painting titled “Toi di hoc” or “I Go to School” by Tran Thi Ho

Currently, Le Dinh Nghien is the sole surviving Hang Trong folk painter, remaining steadfast in preserving this centuries-old craft. With an impressive six decades of experience, he possesses unparalleled expertise in each stage of creating a Hang Trong folk painting. His dedication to his family’s artistic legacy is unrivaled.

Over the past years, the artist has been sharing his passion and valuable knowledge with his son, Le Hoan. This transfer of skills has also engaged talented young artists, who have brought new life and vitality to the traditional Hang Trong folk painting, making it an active player in the realm of contemporary art.

The “Luong nghi sinh tu tuong” or “Dualism Gives Birth to Four Statues” is a notable example of Hang Trong folk painting, showcasing the profound wisdom of the East through its rich diversity and multifaceted nature.

A Hang Trong folk painting- the “Phuc loc song toan” (Happiness and Fortune)

Currently, there is only one remaining Hang Trong folk painter known as craftsman Le Dinh Nghien. With a legacy spanning six decades, he is the sole practitioner capable of executing each intricate step involved in the creation of a Hang Trong folk painting.

In recent times, the artist has imparted his passion and expertise to his son, Le Hoan. Through the fervent involvement of emerging artists, Hang Trong folk painting aspires to thrive and become an integral part of contemporary art.

The Hang Trong folk painting called “Luong nghi sinh tu tuong” or “Dualism Gives Birth to Four Statues” shows the diversity and many aspects of things in Eastern wisdom.