Culture Culture

27/09/2022 - 08:08

Miniature animals tell the story of conservation

“Modernity comes from tradition. However one must modernize tradition if one wants it to continue,” said Le Thiet Cuong. It is also the message Cuong and his partners want to get across at the exhibition “Miniature Animals.”

The four artists’ miniature animals get the attention of those who love arts in Hue

After a long journey from Ha Noi to Da Nang to Hoi An, the exhibition “Miniature Animals” by the four artists Le Minh Tri, Le Ngoc Thuan, Vu Huu Nhung and Le Thiet Cuong stops at Lan Vien Co Tich (120 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen St., Hue City) for art lovers in the ancient imperial capital of Hue.

Original cute miniature animals such as buffalos, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, etc. made of various materials such as pottery, iron, bronze or wood in a very creative manner surprise the public. 

With the artists’ different perspectives and creativity, their works tell the viewer different stories about their craft villages and how their art is conserved and continues to live in the modern era.

“Reborn Buffalo” (wood sculpture) by Le Ngoc Thuan

At the exhibition, the viewer can see Le Minh Tri’s favorite wooden buffalos, cows, pigs, chickens, and dogs covered with paint and his decorative patterns of colors in contrast. It is the combination between painting and sculpture.

Le Ngoc Thuan’s wooden elephants, dragons, buffalos, and chickens look modern and typical of the Co Tu ethnic group in Tay Giang (Quang Nam Province.)

Vu Huu Nhung’s horses remind the viewer of Phu Lang, the well-known hundred-of-year-old pottery village in Bac Ninh. His horses are made of different materials such as wood, rock, pottery, paper, etc. His well-proportioned and well-baked horses impress the viewer.

Le Thiet Cuong joins the exhibition as not only an artist but also a curator. His miniature animals of bronze and iron and his paintings are made in his minimalist style. 

With his Hoi An accent, Le Ngoc Thuan said he used recycled wood and wood he had collected from the Thu Bon river after each flooding season.

Imbedded in his artworks is his message about conservation and how to employ natural resources in a sensible way. He wants to bring modernity into tradition. Gladly, his creations have been accepted by the community.

“I used to commute between Hoi An and Nam Giang highland where the Co Tu ethnic group resides. I collected wood drifting to lowlands in flooding seasons. The Co Tu people have their own original sculpture and culture. I made my works with that drifting wood,” said Le Ngoc Thuan.

Bringing this interesting original exhibition through many places including Hue was not easy at all. It took them 2 years long to prepare.

Besides the four artists’ common interest, the exhibition is the result of the invitation from art lovers in Hue and the owner of Lan Vien Co Tich, Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan.

Thanks to that, the artist group have a chance to bring their miniature animals to Hue City to continue the story of “bringing tradition to modernity.” Animals in real life are the starting point and the inspiration for contemporary artists. 

Continuing the art stream

According to Le Thiet Cuong, many Vietnamese artists have so far pursued this theme. Particularly, Nguyen Tu Nghiem lists miniature animals one of his important themes besides ancient dancing and Thuy Kieu; Nguyen Sang paints cats; Le Tri Dung paints horses; Le Ngoc Han and Nguyen Trong Doan make pottery horses in the Bat Trang style; Dinh Cong Dat make insects, etc. This exhibition is to continue with that art stream.

Story and photos: Nhat Minh