Painter To Ngoc Van
Painter To Ngoc Van, also called To Tu or Ai My, was born on December 15th, 1908, in Xuan Cau village, Van Giang district.
He graduated from the Fine Arts College (In second year) in 1931. From 1931, he started to work with newspapers including Phong Hoa, Ngay nay (Today) and Thanh Nghi.
He worked as a teacher in a high school in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) during 1935-1939 and gave lectures at the Fine Arts College of Indochina from 1939 to 1945.
After the August Revolution (1945), he joined the anti-French resistance war and in charge of Viet Bac Fine Arts School.
On June 17th, 1954, he died in Da Khe, an area next to Dien Bien Phu battle field. He was recognized as the master of Vietnamese oil painting. His works were exhibited in Sai Gon (1930) and in many exhibitions in Poland, Russia, Hungary, and Romania.
His main works include:
Before the August Revolution-1945: A girl by lotus (1944), A girl and lilies (1943), Two girls and a child (1944), Woman next to “Tam Da” picture (1942), At noon (1936), Next to flowers (1942), Boat on Perfume River (1935). All of them are oil paintings.
In the resistance war against French colonialism: Uncle Ho working in Bac Bo palace (Oil, 1946), Resting on the way (Lacquer -1948), Con trau qua thuc (Buffalo - Water color, 1954), Two soldiers (Water color, 1949)
Participating in the national resistance war, his point of view was changed from “Art for the sake of art” to “Art for the sake of resistance war”.
His works made during the resistance war illustrated that change clearly. His patriotism is the symbol of a real artist-soldier. His contributions in oil painting art before the revolution is now being appreciated and as time goes by, the value of his oil painting is still recognized.
He died when his career was still promising and he left a huge amount of works behind with 150 paintings and sketches, many of which are now being kept in Fine Art Museum with high appreciation of people in Vietnam and aboard. The name of To Ngoc Van was written down in the history as a pride of Vietnam’s painting.