Pham Hau ( Vietnamese, 1903-1995)
Pham Hau, a renowned Vietnamese artist, has left an indelible mark in the realm of lacquer art, distinguished by his exceptional expertise in this traditional Vietnamese art form. Born in 1903 in a village in Dông Ngac, Vietnam, young Pham Hau embarked on his early years of apprenticeship in the workshop of Nam Son (Nguyen Van Tho, 1890-1973), whom he encountered through his stepfather. This stage was pivotal in the artist's career, as it was under the guidance of this pioneer of modern Vietnamese painting that he received his academic training, honing his skills and developing a pure and distinctive style. Subsequently, he successfully joined the fifth class of the Indochina Fine Arts College from 1929 to 1934. After earning his diploma, Pham Hau joined an avant-garde group of painters, opening up new perspectives for creative exploration. He soon established his lacquer studio in the village of Dông Ngac, becoming a sought-after artist by prominent Vietnamese and French colonial families. Victor Tardieu, the director of the Fine Arts College, commissioned his very first piece.
Over the years, Pham Hau distinguished himself through his innovative approach to lacquer, integrating traditional Vietnamese elements with contemporary aesthetics. He developed exceptional mastery in the technique of carved lacquer, creating pieces that narrate complex stories through detailed motifs and elaborate scenes. In 1935, during the first exhibition organized by the Annamite Society for the Encouragement of Art and Industry (SADEAI) in Hanoi, he won the gold medal for his paintings. His name appeared in "Sovereigns and Notables of Indochina" published by the General Government of Indochina in 1943, rapidly establishing him as one of the most significant artists.
Beyond his success as an artist, Pham Hau played a crucial role in preserving and promoting lacquer art in Vietnam. He taught at the Hanoi Fine Arts College, sharing his knowledge and inspiring young artists to perpetuate this unique artistic tradition. He passed away in 1995, but his artistic legacy lives on through his iconic works, exhibited in museums and collections worldwide. His influence continues to foster appreciation for Vietnamese lacquer art, inspiring contemporary artists to explore new avenues in this rich and captivating traditional art form.
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