Winning Top Prize: Khmer Festival Painting Takes Heritage Drawing Competition

The Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association has organized this event to be held biennially, with the upcoming edition slated for 2025.

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The painting Khmer Festival in Ca Mau has won the Excellence Award of the first Vietnamese Cultural Heritage through a Painting Contest which attracted 839 works from 494 artists nationwide.

The award ceremony was held in Hanoi on January 16.

The contest is organized by the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association. The jury selected 100 works for the final round and awarded prizes to the 30 best.

The watercolor painting Khmer Festival in Ca Mau is by Lai Lam Tung, an artist from the southernmost province of Ca Mau.

One hundred outstanding entries showcased at an exhibition. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Speaking to The Hanoi Times, Tung said he is not a professional artist but an oil and gas worker with a long-standing passion for fine art.

Tung planned to paint this painting 10 years ago, but due to his busy work schedule, he only had time to do it now. The painting took eight months to complete after a long process of collecting and researching the cultural traditions of the Khmer people.

With his knowledge and experience, he tried to reproduce in his work the decorative motifs and designs of the Khmer pagodas in southern Vietnam.

Do Van Tru, Chairman of the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association and head of the organizing committee, said the contest was a useful and level playing field for enthusiasts of fine arts and cultural heritage across the country.

Group of works Fairy: Kite and communal house by Pham Hung Anh. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

“We encouraged young artists to participate in the competition in the hope that it would make them proud of Vietnam’s tangible and intangible cultural treasures and that the younger generation would be more aware of protecting and promoting traditional cultural values,” Tru said.

Artist Le Huy Tiep, head of the jury, said most of the entries closely followed the theme of the competition, reflecting the country’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Many works are very sophisticated regarding ideas, content, and expression. The oldest contestant is 84 years old, while the youngest is nine years old, and there is even one author who submitted up to eight works, which is a record for the contest.

Many works reflect the architectural design of communal houses, temples, pagodas, shrines, and natural heritage, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang.

Some other paintings depict intangible cultural heritage, such as Hue royal vocal music, lantern dancing, Vietnamese belief in worshipping the Mother Goddess, water puppetry, and others.

An exhibition of 100 outstanding works from the competition is on display until January 21 at the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts, 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hanoi.

The village of Uoc Le, home to the trade of making pork rolls, is an oil on canvas by Le Thu.
Long Bien Bridge by Nguyen Chien.
Water Puppetry by Mai Ngoc Minh.
Le Thi Thanh’s A Thousand Ancient Marks, including printed copies at the Temple of Literature, win first prize. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
Dragon by Pham Xuan Trung.