Nguyen Tu Nghiem - Vietnamese master artist

He studied in the same class with Bui Xuan Phai; he is one of the four master painters in the last generation of artists trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de L'Indochine (1941-1946). Very early, Nguyen Tu Nghiem showed himself a good painter with a high competence at the time. He joined the anti-French Resistance war and the Land reform in 1953. Unfortunately, his family was imputed to the landlord class and his father was executed in that Roform. After the anti-French Resistance war, he applied for his resignation and stayed at home to paint. At first, he drew realistic pictures and then, having well studied the national, traditional artistic heritage, he shifted to paint series of pictures in a new artistic language learnt from the traditions.

Nguyen Tu Nghiem's pictures didn't made a deep impression of feelings on the viewers like those of Bui Xuan Phai, but he is regarded as an innovative artist with very original creations is terms of artistic language and national orientation. In the 1955-1970, he drew several series of lacquer paintings with simple but splendid colours on the themes of the people's everyday life in towns and the countryside and creatively included the motifs of ancient dances and the image of Saint Giong in his paintings. He began to change his style of three-dimensional space into two-dimensional space and break up the figures just like what the cubists do in their project. For this reason many people think that Nguyen Tu Nghiem is influenced by Picasso but the real fact is that he has detached the strokes of drawing from the sculptures in communal houses and has exploited the cubist elements from them.

Three of the four abovementioned master painters viz. Duong Bich Lien, Nguyen Sang, Bui Xuan Phai all died in 1988. Nguyen Tu Nghiem alone is still alive and he keeos on painting from time to time. His hands are a bit trembling, his eyesight is not very good but the colours and strokes in his pictures are more and more sophisticated. The artst's spirit in Nguyen Tu Nghiem is truly unique and he sets a bright example of self-denial in artistic work.