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23/09/2022 - 13:06

The childhood river in Dang Mau Tuu's painting

Not everyone has had an inadequate but innocently joyful childhood and not everyone lives with memories of countless games as children. Not everyone has experienced the laughter with their village friends from game to game…

The painter Dang Mau Tuu beside his work

Though it seems like those games are only in memory, gradually diminishing over the years, now Dang Mau Tuu has revived and brought back the childhood of his own and his peers. There, the memories of all the games that he had experienced as a child bustling with laughter are portrayed.

“They were the days of the 0.0 era. There was no technology, no phones and many other “no’s”, unlike today when children are surrounded by many modern games,” said Dang Mau Tuu. He recalled his childhood with such a gallery called "Ah! Once upon a time" in the autumn days of back-to-school season and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Many people when entering the gallery space “Ah! Once upon a time” (displayed at the headquarters of Song Huong Magazine, 9 Pham Hong Thai St., Hue City) will be surprised by more than 30 familiar but strange silk paintings. Familiar because we have more or less passed through our childhood, and strange because, for a long time, with no reminder, we have more or less forgotten amidst the changes of modern life.

The pure and innocent piece "Winner" in the exhibition "Ah! Once upon a time"

Each piece of artwork is a folk game, like a bus that brings spectators back to childhood and to the games that were popular then. These games are disappearing and some are no longer played by children nowadays. They only live in the fond memories of previous generations.

With vivid colors and his own childhood recollection, Dang Mau Tuu displays an innocent journey back dozens of years ago, immersed in the world of children's games, with the silhouette of his childhood games.

“My childhood and the childhood of many people of my generation were difficult. Those were hard days, but it was fun to have a lot of memories, with a lot of children's games. Playing from game to game - artist Dang Mau Tuu confided and added - I have cherished and have worked on this series of paintings for many years. All the games that I paint are the games that have stuck with me since childhood.”

The childhood of this 70-year-old artist is like many others, with many games being strikingly portrayed in the paintings such as jumping rope, hitting pots blindfolded, playing palanquin procession, playing o lang, jumping sacks, pushing sticks, "chicken" fights (a game using a type of weed), throwing cans, passing cards...

Dap om (Hitting the pot blindfolded) - a folk game through the painting of Dang Mau Tuu

Nguyen Thien Duc, a painter, Chairman of the Provincial Fine Arts Association, said that more than 30 silk paintings by artist Dang Mau Tuu in this exhibition are elaborately and meticulous. Hue has not received such kinds of paintings for a long time. The gallery has brought viewers back to the distant past of time, finding clear memories that are both real and virtual.

There, not only the author but also many generations of people have lived or once passed through and got lost in the changing stream of life, only to be surprised and nostalgic to see them again on each work of art.

"The naïve and innocent substance that is both familiar and strange and unique to Dang Mau Tuu's visual language, is expressed in variations from color to style, from techniques of materials to characters. They are poetic, like stepping out from the legendary fairy tales or the fables full of humanity. In a rustic world which has nurtured and fostered so many emotions, it can be said that folk games are part of the Vietnamese soul," said Nguyen Thien Duc.

It's not just about expressing memories with a visual walk, according to the painter Nguyen Thien Duc, behind the exhibition "Ah! Once upon a time" are the author's emotional metaphors between concepts: old - new, gain - loss, regret - acceptance, or departure and return... All are choreographed by sensitivity and experience, which each of us will have to reflect on our own. All of this has made the exhibition even more special.

“Although he has passed the age of seventy, his visual world is sometimes innocent and young again. The fire of creative passion in him has never cooled down. On the contrary, it is still as passionate as a child playing a game, to dedicate himself to life with frequent solo exhibitions in recent years," Nguyen Thien Duc praised his senior colleague Dang Mau Tuu.

Story and photos: Phan Thanh

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