When I visited artist Tran Xuan Phuc’s house in Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, he was diligently completing the final lines of the painting “President Ho Chi Minh with the armed forces.”
During his more than 40 years of painting career, he has painted thousands of pictures of Uncle Ho. Every time on Uncle’s birthday, National Day, or any other special occasion, he would compose a new work.
Painter Tran Xuan Phuc was born in 1963 in a family with a tradition of painting in the central province of Thanh Hoa. He inherited the technique and passion for drawing Uncle Ho portraits from his father – painter Tran Xuan Vy.
Vy works at the Culture Department of Thanh Hoa Province, so he has access to many documents and information about Uncle Ho. He had the good fortune to meet Uncle Ho when the president came to visit and work in the province.
Painter Tran Xuan Phuc grew up with stories about Uncle Ho and his father’s love for him.
“My father often told stories about Uncle Ho and taught us to follow Uncle Ho’s example. Out of all the brothers, I probably get along with my dad the most. Therefore, the passion for drawing Uncle Ho was nurtured in me very naturally,” said the artist.
After graduating from high school, Xuan Phuc joined the army with the task of painting posters, and paintings of Uncle Ho and State leaders.
Leaving the army, he returned to work as a professional artist in Thanh Hoa.
“In the past, printing technology was not as developed as it is now, the portraits of Uncle Ho hanging in organizations, offices, and schools were all hand-painted by artists. Not everyone can draw Uncle Ho, artists must be licensed by the Department of Culture in order to paint,” recalled artist Tran Xuan Phuc.
|Painter Tran Xuan Phuc forgets himself in painting Uncle Ho. Photos: Tra My
In 1997, his family moved to Hanoi to live. Since then, he has had the opportunity to draw more. His works are ordered by the State and agencies for exhibition, display and as gifts to diplomatic partners. Up to now, Tran Xuan Phuc’s paintings have appeared in many countries around the world.
It is a great honor for the artist to contribute to spreading the image of Uncle Ho as pride, a symbol of the vitality and will of the Vietnamese people.
Artist Tran Xuan Phuc painted Uncle Ho from a very young age and maintained this work throughout his life. He thinks that Uncle Ho’s painting is not only a communication work but must have a story and message.
Not only did he seriously study painting, but he also actively collected thematic materials such as Uncle Ho with the police, Uncle Ho with the army, Uncle Ho with farmers…
Having accumulated background knowledge about Uncle Ho, he immersed his soul in emotions and love for the Father of the nation and composed works containing many profound messages.
“Through my works, I try to convey the message of President Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts. Even with the same theme such as Uncle Ho reading the Declaration of Independence, Uncle Ho with the armed forces…, each painting will have a different background, lighting, and details,” said the artist.
Painter Tran Xuan Phuc said that drawing portraits of leaders, in general, has a difficulty of how to convey the character’s spirit. As for drawing Uncle Ho’s portrait, he always had an idea of what to draw and how to draw.
“I draw from the general, generalize first, then go into the details and specifications, to make the layout, color, and light very harmonious. When the mind is at its most comfortable, I focus on the emphasis on the face. In it, the focus is on Uncle Ho’s eyes, showing Uncle Ho’s broad thoughts, and wisdom, but also his closeness, simplicity, and benevolence,” the artist shared.
One of the paintings that the artist is most interested in is “Uncle Ho reads the Declaration of Independence.” The work has two main colors red and yellow. Uncle Ho’s portrait stands out in the background of the fluttering national flag. Ba Dinh Square with the entire population is placed in Uncle Ho’s heart.
Over 40 years of painting Uncle Ho’s portrait, artist Tran Xuan Phuc has never stopped being passionate and creative. His biggest wish is to be able to build his own art museum. It will be a place to display his works throughout his life, in which the most solemn place will be devoted to displaying paintings of Uncle Ho.
Commenting on painter Tran Xuan Phuc, Luong Xuan Doan, Chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, said that not all painters have the vibration and confidence to paint portraits of leaders. But Tran Xuan Phuc succeeded in this topic.
“Phuc has affirmed himself in the subject area that not everyone has the predestined to draw well, which is the topic of President Ho Chi Minh. His works have been widely used in many places, especially in Government and State agencies. It was a success for him,” said Doan.
Some paintings of Tran Xuan Phuc who spends his whole life painting Uncle Ho.