The Magic of Traditional H’Mong Paper: A Hanoi Artist’s Journey

Artist Nguyen Manh Quynh showcases his artistic prowess by painting on traditional H'Mong paper, a unique medium that sets him apart from other artists. With this distinctive approach, Quynh strives to create a captivating art world that is entirely his own. Additionally, by utilizing this ancient craft, he aims to contribute to the preservation and development of the traditional art of paper-making, ensuring that this timeless skill endures for future generations.


“The Captivating World of Giang Paper and Its Artistic Transformation”:

“There’s something truly captivating about contemporary painting on giang paper—a unique type of bamboo paper with a magical, rough surface. The artwork of Hanoi-based artist Nguyen Manh Quynh, showcased on giang paper, exudes power and joy, transporting viewers to a spiritual realm of enigmatic beauty.”

This is how Quynh describes his fascination with giang paper and its role in his abstract expressions of contemporary brushstrokes. Giang paper, with its distinct texture and absorbency, creates a captivating canvas for watercolor paintings, as evident in Quynh’s artworks.

Painter Nguyen Manh Quynh, captivated by the unique qualities of giang paper, uses this traditional material as a canvas for his contemporary artworks. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts

A Spiritual and Artistic Journey with Giang Paper

Giang paper is more than just a canvas; it is deeply rooted in the spiritual life of the H’Mong ethnic people in Pa Co Village, Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh province. This paper, made from giang bamboo, is used in rituals and ancestor worship, with its rough surface and absorbency making it ideal for watercolor expressions.

For the H’Mong people, giang paper is a sacred item, taped to the wall opposite the front door as a place of worship. It is also used to create charms for the ancestral altar and burned as offerings for the deceased, symbolizing the bond between the living and the dead.

Artist Nguyen Manh Quynh, intrigued by the unique qualities of giang paper, embarked on a journey to Pa Co, where he witnessed the traditional paper-making process. The ever-changing surface of the paper, reflecting layers of nature, inspired Quynh to create modern artworks on this traditional canvas.

Nguyen Manh Quynh’s artworks on giang paper captivate viewers with their blend of traditional paper and modern artistic expressions. Photo:

Blending Tradition and Contemporary Art

Quynh’s artistic process involves covering the giang paper with canvas before painting, resulting in a unique blend of textures. Each meticulous line on his artworks reflects his deep understanding of the paper, gained over four years of dedication.

His inspiration stems from the H’Mong ethnic people’s rich cultural life, exploring themes such as the relationship between man, nature, the universe, and the divine. This fusion of traditional paper and contemporary art has captivated both artists and poets, including painter Dinh Quang Tinh and poet-painter Nguyen Quang Thieu.

Nguyen Manh Quynh’s artworks, showcased on giang paper, offer a unique blend of traditional and contemporary artistic expressions.

Thieu, captivated by Quynh’s paintings, describes how they transport viewers through different eras, from ancient to modern and future, uncovering the mysteries of the unknown. The blend of giang paper’s ancient beauty and Quynh’s modern artistic vision has created a world named after the artist himself—a world that defines his artistic journey and continues to inspire and captivate audiences.

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