Ta Quang Bao: The Iconic Sculptor and Painter of Vietnamese Art

Ta Quang Bao, a sculptor based in Hanoi, stands out as an exceptional artist in the field of Vietnamese visual arts. With his remarkable talent, he has crafted numerous monumental sculptures that grace various locations across the country.

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Throughout his 50-year career, Hanoi-based sculptor Ta Quang Bao has demonstrated his exceptional skill with stone, iron, steel, and cement. His most notable masterpiece, the “Ho Keo Phao” (Singing when Pulling Cannon) monument in Dien Bien Province, set a national record when it was unveiled in 2009. Standing at an impressive 11 meters tall and comprised of 100 blocks of green stone totaling 1,200 tons, this monument solidified Bao’s reputation as a leading sculptor in Vietnam. Additionally, Bao has created other remarkable works in Buon Me Thuot City, Vinh Phuc Province, and Hai Van Pass.

Born in 1941, Ta Quang Bao pursued his studies at the Intermediate School of Industrial Fine Arts in Hanoi, where he honed his skills until 1963. After completing his education, he joined the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum and continued to enhance his craft by learning at the Sculpture Faculty of the College of Industrial Fine Arts. Bao’s artistic journey took him to central Vietnam during the war, where he not only fought on the battlefield but also found moments of respite to create his magnificent pieces.

 The monument “Singing While Pulling the Cannon” created by Ta Quang Bao in the northern province of Dien Bien. Photo: Internet

With an extensive collection of works displayed in his family museum, and numerous statues and monuments exhibited in national museums and throughout the country, Bao has firmly established himself as a prominent figure in Vietnamese sculpture. His creations frequently depict the revolutionary war, portraying Vietnam’s resilient mothers and heroic soldiers who selflessly dedicated their lives to the nation.

In Bao’s own words, “Making statues is life and joy. I believe that individuals should live with ideals, ambitions, and dreams. To achieve this, people must work, create, and leave behind a meaningful legacy through honest labor.”

As his eighties approached, Ta Quang Bao decided to embark on a new artistic adventure, venturing into the realm of lacquer painting. After three years of dedicated exploration, Bao presented 50 stunning large-scale lacquer works at an exhibition titled “Ta Quang Bao’s Paintings,” which captivated fellow artists and the public alike when it debuted in Hanoi in late December 2023.

Through his artwork, Bao articulates his unique perspective on people, life, and nature, incorporating a vibrant and diverse color palette.

 Artist Ta Quang Bao (C) and artist Ngo Xuan Binh (R) at Ta Quang Bao’s recent exhibition. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

When reflecting on his exhibition, Bao remarked, “As long as I’m alive, I will continue to create art. The act of creation is synonymous with discovery.”

When asked about his choice to explore lacquer painting, Bao explained, “Lacquer painting is a unique artistic medium native to our nation. By contributing to the world of fine arts, it helps cultivate a sense of national pride.”

Researcher Nguyen The Khoa praised Bao, affirming that he has proudly represented Vietnamese sculpture for over 60 years. In the past three years of his lacquer painting endeavors, Bao has continued to elevate Vietnamese fine arts to new heights.

Khoa remarked, “It was as if a hurricane swept Ta Quang Bao into the realm of lacquer painting, immersing him and introducing us to a new realm of creativity. Bao exclusively utilizes Vietnamese lacquer, thus his paintings exemplify true Vietnamese artistry, distinct from Chinese and Japanese influences.”

 Ta Quang Bao’s first lacquer painting exhibition as a painter. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Notably, artist Ngo Xuan Binh commended Bao as an exceptional artist within Vietnam. Despite his advanced age, Bao continues to paint large-scale lacquer artworks. Traditional lacquer painting presents certain limitations in color and the depiction of multidimensional space, but Bao has exhibited no such constraints in his work.

Binh emphasized, “Through this exhibition, Bao has not only established a trend, style, and grandeur in the domain of lacquer painting, but he has also reinforced his own identity as Ta Quang Bao. My visits to his studio are always brief, yet even a moment spent amidst his sculptures and paintings conveys their greatness and profound impact.”

Luong Xuan Doan, Chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, considers Bao an artist whose career evolved alongside the development of modern Vietnamese fine arts. His contributions have left an indelible mark, and he stands as one of the few Vietnamese artists honored with two of the country’s highest awards: The Ho Chi Minh Prize for Art and Literature and the State Prize for Art and Literature. The future generations of artists will fondly remember and be grateful for his mentorship, recognizing him as an icon and a master of modern fine arts.