Lacquer art moves forward

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Exciting innovations in lacquer art can be seen at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts until Monday June 15.

The 130-odd exhibits in "New Creative Way - Lacquer Painting" are the fruit of an experimental artists's collective based at Saigon Art Ky Long Gallery.

Well over half the pictures took the mostly young artists more than eight months to produce as they feature many layers of lacquer forming protrusions in the surface.

The material is traditional but the method is new, says gallery owner Ly Khac Nhu.

Vietnamese people started to use natural lacquer for decoration thousands of years ago.

Even after hundreds of years, lacquered objects are still intact and as beautiful as when they were made, says Nhu.

A turning point in lacquer application came in the 1920s, when artists at the Indochina School of Fine Arts began using it.

What they did was draw a sketch, apply lacquer of different colors, then finish the work off by chiseling away at the dried surface.

Nhu says the collective hopes to establish a club for lacquer painters to keep the art form alive, relevant and moving forward.

The exhibition at 97A Pho Duc Chinh Street in District 1 opened on Saturday and lasts until Monday June 15.

Collective member Nguyen Huy Khoi says it's the biggest group exhibition yet seen in HCMC.

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