Hang Trong paintings, one of the typical folk art of Hanoi, have been preserved by the family of Meritorious Artisan Le Dinh Nghien, a prominent veteran among a few who still passionately pursuing the Enterprise of keeping up an age-old trade so that it would not fall into oblivion.

His son, young artisan Le Hoan is also making endeavor to revive this unique folk painting for his passion as well as devotion to the ancestors and nation.

Artisan Le Dinh Nghien is striving to keep the age-old trade ò Hang Trong folk painting, so that it would not fall into oblivion. Photo: Que Huong Magazine 

Passion to succeed the family’s trade

Born in 1950, Mr. Nghien came from a family practicing traditional  painting in Binh Vong village, Thuong Tin District. When he was a child, his family moved to Hang Trong Street in Hoan Kiem District, the cradle of Hang Trong paintings. His father and grandfather, Le Xuan Que and Le Dinh Lieu, were also famous artists of Hang Trong paintings.

Mr. Nghien was the only of the seven brothers and sisters to pursue the family’s trade. Spending the whole life on Hang Trong paintings, now Mr. Nghien passes all the skills and expertise the job to his son who shares the same passion to this craft. 

“Many generations in my family have dedicated to the profession but it is very difficult to find a successor now. It requires a lot of meticulousness, skillfulness, patience and passion,” he said, “It also takes much time to study so it is challenging to hand it down to the next generation. However, I still encourage my son to pursue it”. 

A new generation of Hang Trong folk painting – artisan Le Hoan, the son of renown artisan Le Dinh Nghien. Photo: Police’s Literature Newspaper. 

Otherwise, no one would. I try to guide my son to preserve this folk art just like my father taught me in the old days.” Like his father to his grandfather, since a kid, artist Le Hoan saw his father carefully carving wood blocks and coloring the paintings.

His passion for the art was nurtured like that. Then colors, brushes, woodblocks and paintings have become attached with his life. The value of the folk art and the personality shown  in each work is  challenging for  the artist but also inspires him to preserve the trade, as Mr. Hoan shared his thought. 

The “Four Palaces of the Community”and “Five Tigers” are typical Hang Trong worshiping paintings. Photo: The Factory

Significant achievements

Visiting the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, many people are impressed with beautiful Hang Trong paintings for not only the large size but also the harmony of color and the sophistication in each detail.

They are the joint  piece of artwork made by both the father and son, Le Dinh Nghien and Le Hoan. It is Mr. Hoan’s personal achievement for his hard study and work because he did not take any official art courses.

Thanks to his father’s instruction and training, he has drawn many sophisticated and beautiful Hang Trong paintings. Some of his independent works are also displayed at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum where he and his father work.

The “Five Tigers” painting. Photo: The Factory

The museum also gives him the opportunity to enhance skills and experiences by sending him to study advanced courses on painting skills and ancient paper painting restoration.

Among his paintings, Mr. Hoan has a special memory of the two of them displayed at the exhibition of Vietnam’s twelves typical lines of folk paintings at Hanoi Museum in 2016.

They were “Four Palaces of the Community” and “Five Tigers”, typical Hang Trong worshiping paintings. Measuring 1.4m x 1.8m, they were considered the largest-ever of its kind. It took Le Hoan and his colleagues several months of hard work to complete it.

The dream of having a solo exhibition

Dong Ho folk painting requires a lot of meticulousness, skillfulness, patience and passion. Photo: Trang Pham

As his works have been gradually recognized by the public, Mr. Hoan aims to open a solo exhibition. It will be the highlight of all of his passion and contribution to Hang Trong paintings. It would also be one of the best ways to promote the paintings to the public, especially to the young people.

The succession story of father and son of artists Le Dinh Nghien and Le Hoan shows the strong vitality of Hang Trong folk paintings.  

However, the involvement of local authorities and cultural centers together with artists is also necessary for the preservation and development of this line of popular painting.