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Contemporary art on show in capital



HÀ NỘI — Nearly 500 works of various art forms including painting, graphics, sculpture, installation and video art by artists throughout the country are on display in downtown Hà Nội.

The show reflects the contemporary art life of the country in the past five years.

Titled the Việt Nam Fine Arts Exhibition, the event has gathered over 3,500 works by more than 1,380 artists after six months. The jury has selected nearly 30 of the best works for prizes including six second prizes, 11 third, and 12 consolation prizes.

The event is the most important of its kind to show trends of domestic fine arts. Photo Lê Hương 

Vương Duy Biên, former deputy culture minister and chairman of the jury, said they found it difficult to decide the prize-winning works as the talents of contributing artists are almost at the same level.

“Though there are no distinguished young talents and no first prizes awarded in all categories, the works this time have been more professional than in previous years,” he said.  

Sculptor Lê Lạng Lương, a member of the Sculpture Art Council at the event, said we can see more and more different viewpoints in creating art works: from realistic trends, modern forms, to abstract and minimalism.

Sculptor Nguyễn Xuân Tiến, another member of the sculpture council, noted that there have been no works really impressing viewers and reflecting a comprehensive view of Vietnamese sculpture over the past few years.

A Series of Dreams, a sculpture made from wood and metal by Lê Trọng Nghĩa, third prize. Photo Lê Hương

Sculptor Đoàn Văn Bằng, another member of the council, said the event has failed to attract artists who have actively worked in the field.

“A big question to organisers for the next event is how they should attract great names,” he said. “They should consider the size of the prize to gather proper names. The audience always expects to see works with fresh creative ideas.”

According to professor and painter Lê Anh Vân, a member of the Painting Art Council, though the event lacked popular names, the exhibited works still reflect a part of creative desire and the findings in expressive language of the artists in front of changes of society and technology.

Sil painting titled Thầm Thì (Wisher) by Nguyễn Thị Hoàng Minh. Photo Lê Hương

Researcher and art critic Phan Cẩm Thượng explains why great names did not attend the event.

“From 1995 to present, there have been more individual and collective exhibitions organised, where popular artists have been invited, than in the previous period. Besides, artists are often free in creating and thinking, they do not like being judged by certain criteria. Popular names now tend to follow commercial trends rather than pure art with individual and distinctive characteristics.

“That’s why the national event every five year has attracted fewer and fewer popular names. I think instead of waiting for artists to join, organisers should invite the most influential ones so that the event reflects the best domestic fine arts situation in five year’s time.”

The exhibition will run at the Việt Nam Culture, Art and Exhibition Centre, No 2 Hoa Lư Street, Hai Bà Trưng District, Hà Nội till December 10 before moving to HCM City’s Fine Arts Museum, 79A, Phó Đức Chính Street, District 1 between December 22 and 29.

Viewers at the event. Photo Lê Hương



Vietnamese diva Le Thu dies of COVID-19 in US



Vietnamese diva Le Thu died in the U.S. on Friday (local time) at the age of 78 after a period combating COVID-19, according the artistscommunity in the States.

Thu’s passing away was announced by her daughter, Tu, emcee Jimmy Nhut Ha said on Saturday morning.

Accordingly, Le Thu was admitted to Memorial Coast Hospital in California and had to stay in the intensive care unit.

On January 3, Thu’s daughter said she was in critical condition because of COVID-19.

On Thursday, her family said the diva was still in a coma and ventilator, with her family, friends and  Vietnamese artists in the U.S. praying for her health.

However, Thu passed away at 7:00 pm on Friday (U.S. time) after a critical period of treatment for COVID-19.

Thu’s funeral will not take place in a couple of weeks as the funeral services in her locality is currently overloaded due to the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to singer Quang Thanh – one of Thu’s juniors in the music industry living in the States.

Information about Thu’s funeral in the U.S. will be updated later.

Singer Le Thu, whose real name is Bui Thi Oanh, was born on July 16, 1943. 

She is one of the leading vocalists of the Vietnamese music in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Le Thu, along with Thai Thanh and Khanh Ly, were three singers that took the Vietnamese music world by storm during that period for their performances of popular love songs and pre-war songs by famous composers such as Pham Duy, Cung Tien, Doan Chuan, and Trinh Cong Son.

In 1980, Le Thu relocated to the U.S. with her family.

She remained active in singing before catching COVID-19 .

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Man has world’s biggest collection of smallest trees



With a collection of over 5,600 penjing pots, Nguyen Van Phung, 59, has the world’s largest collection of miniature bonsai trees.

In his 4,000-square-meter garden in Phuoc Dong Commune, Nha Trang beach town, central Khanh Hoa Province, Phung displays thousands of bonsai pots in different sizes, from normal to tiny pots of only 5-10 cm.For the past 30 years, he has been growing mini bonsai pots and other plants out of passion.After learning and caring for many big trees, I want to create small plants with its own shapes and am fascinated by its beauty, he said.

In his 4,000-square-meter garden in the beach town of Nha Trang in central Khanh Hoa Province, Phung has on display thousands of bonsai pots in different sizes, from normal to tiny ones that are just 5-10 cm. This has been a passion that he has pursued for the past 30 years – growing mini bonsai pots and other plants.
“After learning and caring for many big trees, I became fascinated with the beauty of smaller ones and their shapes,” he said.

The varieties that he chose to make tiny bonsai such as willow, apricot blossom, fir ..., but most are fir tree because the small leaves, flexible branches, can survive in inclement weather and you can zoom out to create an image.Tiny bonsai pots made of fir trees are created by artisans falling on a ceramic vase just a few centimeters.

A tiny bonsai pot with a rubber tree in a ceramic vase just a few centimeters in diameter.
Phung said he picks different species to make the tiny bonsai. However, he favors “sam huong” (rubber plant) the most because of its small leaves, flexible branches and ability to survive in inclement weather, which make it ideal for miniature bonsai.

Phung shared the baby rubberplant are planted according to the extraction method and cut the scene to get the seedlings to create a tiny bonsai. Many other trees are in the same way, but each tree has different characteristics, so growers must regularly monitor the plants development and care.

Phung said he uses “branch extraction” and “leaf reduction” methods with the rubber sapling to make tiny bonsai. While similar methods are applicable for other flora species, each tree has different traits and growers must regularly monitor its development.

Phungs penjing featuring a monk carrying a tiny bonsai. It took him three years to shape the bonsai plant to its current form.

A penjing has a monk supporting a miniature. Phung took three years to care and shape the tree to its current form.
Creating a tiny bonsai pot can take up to 2-5 years to complete since the artist has to start all over again if the removed branch dies after being extracted from the original plant. Forming its outer shape is a meticulous and painstaking process requiring regular monitoring of the growth to prevent them from attracting pests or growing too big.

His tiny bonsai collection is diverse with many different floral types, shapes, ages and sizes.The most challenging part of making penjing is forming its roots and trunks because it is too small to take great care, neglecting to water or leaving it in the sun for many hours, the tree will wither. then die.

His collection of miniature bonsais is very diverse with many different flora species of many different shapes, ages and sizes.
The most challenging part of making a bonsai is forming and caring for a sapling’s roots and trunks because they are very small and fragile. The bonsai will wither and die if one neglects watering it or leaving it out in the sun for too long.

He uses different objects, including shell of a snail or old tire, as the pot holders.

Phung turns different objects, including tiny bowls, snail shells and old tires, into different kinds of pot holders.

He can also turned a statue of a Vietnamese woman wearing traditional ao dai into the base of the penjing.

He has also turned the statue of a Vietnamese woman wearing a traditional ao dai and a conical hat into the base for a penjing.
Depending on the age of the bonsai and the look of the penjing, the price of a bonsai miniature can range from VND500,000 ($21.65) to over VND10 million.

He shared that the worthiness of the mini bonsai depends on how the collector perceives its values in their own eyes since each person has different tastes.

Phung said that the value of a mini bonsai depends on how the collector perceives it, since each person has different tastes.

Phung spent about 2 billion to invest in this tiny bonsai garden. The value on the market today averaged 5-6 billion VND, but he did not intend to sell but to satisfy his passion.Many people enjoy coming to learn or taking pictures to make memories.With this collection, Mr. Phung achieved the world record when the number of bonsai was the most when it reached more than 5,6000, surpassing India with more than 3,300 trees. In the near future, I will bring my pots to the Provincial Museum to display for everyone to admire, said Phung.

He said he has invested about VND2 billion in this bonsai garden, but estimates the value of its products at around VND6 billion based on current market prices. However, he has no plans to sell his garden.
With his collection of over 5,600 pots, the World Records Union (WorldKings) certified Phung as the owner of the world’s largest collection of miniature bonsai trees and penjing landscapes in December last year, breaking the record of a person in India who has owned a collection of more than 3,300 pots.
“In the near future, I will take my pots to the provincial museum so that everyone can admire them,” he said.


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New albums released for Tết




Cellist Hà Miên has made her debut with Romance in Hanoi, an album of Vietnamese and foreign music. The production includes four works by Dutch composer Ad Van Dongen known as AvD, and two Vietnamese works based on folk songs celebrating women and love. (Photo courtesy of the producer)

By Thu Anh 

HCM CITY— Love, youth and women are themes in new albums by female artists Phùng Khánh Linh and Hà Miên whose music celebrates the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday which begins in February.  

Singer and songwriter Linh’s MV, Chỉ Còn Lại Hai Ta (Dance in the City), features melodies in synth-pop/future house, which emerged in the 2010s in the UK. 

The single is the theme track on the singer’s first album Yesteryear, released in December. The album includes 13 songs, composed by Linh, portraying love and women. More than 1,000 copies of the album were sold within two weeks after its release. 


Singer and songwriter Phùng Khánh Linh performs on her MV, Chỉ Còn Lại Hai Ta (Dance in the City), a work featuring melodies in synth-pop/future house. The single is the theme track on the singer’s first album Yesteryear of 13 songs, composed by Linh, portraying love and women. (Photo courtesy of the producer)

 Linh was nominated for the year’s Best Album and the year’s Composer at 2021 Devotion Awards, a leading music awards event presented by Thể Thao & Văn Hoá (Sport & Culture) newspaper.

Linh wrote the theme song Chỉ Còn Lại Hai Ta after seeing Dance in the City, a famous painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 

Linh spent more than VNĐ500 million (US$21,000) on recording and shooting the MV Chỉ Còn Lại Hai Ta

“The lyrics of Chỉ Còn Lại Hai Ta infused a passion in me,” said Nguyễn Tuấn Kiệt, a fan of HCM City. “I love music by Linh, a woman of love. Hearing her voice, I was moved.”

Cellist Hà Miên made her debut with Romance in Hanoi, an album of Vietnamese and foreign music. The album includes four works by Dutch composer Ad Van Dongen known as AvD, and two Vietnamese works based on folk songs celebrating women and love. 

Miên worked with her producer, AvD, to mix and record the album in six days in Amsterdam. 

“I hope listeners will feel the inner power of myself when listening to my album, Romance in Hanoi,” said Miên, a graduate of the Việt Nam Music Institute.

Chỉ Còn Lại Hai Ta and Romance in Hanoi are available on YouTube and Spotify. — 




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