Born in 1903 in the province of Ha Dong, Pham Hau graduated in 1934 after five years of his studies at the École des Beaux Arts de Hanoi. Under the tutelage of professor and painter Joseph Inguimberty, Pham Hau spent many of his days in the École's Lacquer Workshop, where he also became friends with the likes of To Ngoc Van, Tran Quang Tran, Nguyen Khang, Tran Van Can and Nguyen Gia Tri.
However, it was not until the 1940s that Pham Hau gained notoriety for the skilled lacquer technique that would eventually become his hallmark. Along with fellow Nguyen Gia Tri, École des Beaux Arts and veteran Inguimberty, the two artists brought public attention to their skilled and intricate works, and soon gained a reputation for being the Les Maitres Lacquers de Hanoi.
The Golden Age of Vietnamese Paintings (1930-1945), which came as a result of such artists, left remarkable and exquisite works of art that aimed to capture the essence of Vietnamese aesthetics. The classically styled, yet subtle new medium lacquer brought forth a revival. The Lacquer Revival itself became both an important movement and a new chapter in Modern Vietnamese art. One that inspired French visionaries and Vietnamese artists, while also becoming renowned globally as the specialty of Asian art in that era.
This six-screen lacquer panel, with its depiction of a traditional pagoda garden, engages the viewer to feel movement. It invites one into the old pagoda, the lacquer, in the hands of the painter captures serenity and elegance, and like Vietnamese poetry, flowing rhythmically to emphasize the depth and light of this unique work. With voluptuous gold applied on the grandiose banana trees with the fruit at the foreground, symbolize the country's wealth and fertility. Other traditional materials are also applied, such as silver, red, brown and insect wings to give a harmonious texture on the surface of the composition. A true showing of the artist's skill, signed with old engraved seal authenticating the masterpiece.
Pham Hau's pioneering vision made him one of his generation's best and his works are considered of limited numbers. This wonderful piece represents beauty, composition and perfection, which truely reflects the dexterity of Vietnamese Modern Paintings.
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