Uncle Ho in the paintings of a Vietnamese expat

Friday, 2016-09-02 19:05:07
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Uncle Ho is a major inspiration for Dao Trong Ly's paintings.
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NDO – At his own house in Nakhon Phanom province’s Mueang Nakhon Phanom district in Thailand, Dao Trong Ly has a private room to worship Uncle Ho and uses another as a painting studio. In the room still messed with pens, powders and unfinished paintings, Ly told us about his special love for Uncle Ho and his passion for painting, particularly those on the beloved President.

Ly is former president of Nakhon Phanom’s association of Vietnamese Thais. He said he loved painting and wished to become a painter when he was small. Born into a poor family, Ly did not have the chance to pursue painting. During his dozens of years as a teacher of Vietnamese for children of Vietnamese living abroad and participating in the affairs of the Vietnamese association in Nakhon Phanom, Ly’s passion for painting has still not decreased. Taking advantage of free time, Ly painted natural landscapes. After quitting as president of Nakhon Phanom’s association of Vietnamese Thais so as to begin the management work of the President Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, Ly has more spare time to focus on the hobby of painting. He paints Uncle Ho’s portrait from his mind and heart and partially based on the documents and photos he has collected. His paintings mainly use watercolour and canvas.

Knowing his passion for drawing Uncle Ho, Ly’s wife and two children cover all housework to give him more free time to focus on his paintings. Despite the simple drawings, the viewers still feel Ly’s sentiments and love for the great leader of the nation. Ly said his love for Uncle Ho has been fostered since his early childhood when he saw Uncle Ho’s portrait. For him, President Ho Chi Minh is not only a prominent politician but also a simple leader with abundant love for the people. Uncle Ho’s work in Thailand in the early 20th century left a deep impression on Vietnamese in Thailand.

In only a few years, Ly has made dozens of paintings on Uncle Ho, some of which have been presented to friends and relatives and a majority are being showcased at the President Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex in Nakhon Phanom. Ly’s paintings are very simple and close, and hold numerous sentiments for Uncle Ho and the motherland Vietnam. He drew Uncle Ho visiting a school in Vinh city, presenting gifts to two ethnic students in Pac Bo, talking with former Thai Prime Minister Pridi Banomyong - a close friend of Vietnam. Ly’s most time-consuming and favourite painting is “Uncle Ho plants and picks corn”, which features Uncle Ho carrying a spade on his shoulder and standing in the corn field in the sunrise. The painting reflects the sentiment of an oversea Vietnamese away from the homeland for the simple and close president.

Ly’s paintings have spoken for the love of overseas Vietnamese in Nakhon Phanom for beloved Uncle Ho. Living away from the fatherland, the sentiments of overseas Vietnamese for the country and for President Ho Chi Minh have become increasingly persistent and passionate. Those sentiments could be felt by anyone in the overseas Vietnamese community there. Every birth or death anniversary of Uncle Ho, the entire community commemorates him. Failing to hold back her emotions and tears, Nang, a former student of Ly, shared that whenever watching her teacher painting, she felt as if she had been visiting Uncle Ho’s museum in Hanoi. Nang added she loved watching Ly’s paintings on Uncle Ho, which, she said, were very beautiful and vivid. Trinh Cao Son, president of Nakhon Phanom’s association of Vietnamese Thais, also shared Nang’s comments.

At present, Ly has transferred his management work of the complex to another person, which gives him more free time to pursue his passion. He plans to continue painting Uncle Ho’s portrait in a more modern and sophisticated fashion in the future. “I love and respect President Ho Chi Minh. Uncle Ho will always be an unceasing inspiration for my paintings,” Ly said.

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