Painter traverses the nation to answer an order from her heart

  • ngày 17/08/2015

Starting her journey in 2010 with modest luggage including an old Honda Chaly motorbike and her set of paintings, over the past five years, painter Dang Ai Viet has travelled alone across the country to draw sketches of Vietnamese heroic mothers, who are still alive.

Vietnamese heroic mothers, sketches, painter Dang Ai Viet

Painter Dang Ai Viet (left) and a Vietnamese heroic mother 

Born in 1948 in Tien Giang Province, Dang Ai Viet joined the revolution at the age of 15; she thoroughly understands that women, sisters, mothers and aunts have made significant contributions to the national struggles for unification.

She nurtured an idea of a “fine arts strategy’ to save pictures of Vietnamese heroic mothers when she was a lecturer of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University. However, it wasn’t until 2010 when she was retired, that she could bring it into reality.

Viet used an old Honda Chaly motorbike as her means of transport. Prior to the journey, she bought a book on the bike’s engine to learn it by herself. She also had her bike completely repaired and bought some sparking plugs for replacement if needed.

In case of getting lost in the juggle and to maintain her physical health, she practices fasting two days out of every 10 ten. All of the spending for the journey is paid by herself.

Her journey started on February 19, 2010 from Ho Chi Minh City to 24 cities and provinces, where she drew portraits of 244 Vietnamese heroic mothers. She then traveled to southwest localities, and made her 300th painting on November 5, 2010 in Ca Mau city.

Throughout her south-to-north journey, Viet has crossed many mountain passes and streams, devoting herself to realise her promise to her comrades on the old battlefield. Each meeting with a heroic mother left deep impressions on her about the loss the mother has taken. It is the story of mother Pham Thi Thanh from Ho Chi Minh City who overcame bombs and bullets just to embrace the body of her dead husband. It is the story of mother Cao Thi Kiem from Quang Tri Province whose three daughters died in the drug-out. It is the story of mother Le Thi Thi from Da Nang City who was broken-hearted to witness her own daughter being tortured by the enemy.

Viet has hosted exhibitions showcasing the outcomes of her trips. The first one took place in 2010 at the Vietnam Women’s Museum in Hanoi on the occasion of the War Invalids and Martyrs Day. At the second exhibition, also held in 2010, her 140 sketches went on display at the Southern Women’s Museum in HCM City to mark the 80th anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Union. In 2012, 70 of Viet’s sketches were added to the collection of the HCMC Fine Arts Museum, and Viet donated all money collected from this trade to soldiers and people on Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.

After five years rambling across the country, embracing rain and shine, wind and dust and sometimes repairing her bike by herself, Viet has visited 63 cities and provinces nationwide and has drawn 1,032 Vietnamese heroic mothers - this figure is still increasing.

She decided to present all of her sketches to the Vietnam Women’s Museum for free and her Chaly motorbike, which accompanied her across numerous kilometres, has been at the museum since 2012.

Aware that she has to race with time as the mothers are getting older day by day, whenever she tracks a heroic mother, she tries to get there as quick as possible. However, sometimes she misses the chance. When she arrived in Lao Cai Province she heard that the last heroic mother of the locality had passed away.

That pressure has forced her to take advantage of every day and hour to meet the mothers in person and try to feature the beauty, courage and grace of their characters in her paintings.

“I would like to say my strokes are ‘strokes of love’ as they are my way to sincerely pay tribute to Vietnamese mothers”, Viet said. “Before saying good bye to the mothers, she always hugs and kisses them; I do it not only for me but for my comrades and friends,” she added.

She said she hoped that her sketches of Vietnamese mothers would help light up the humanity, resilient spirit and patriotism among younger generations.

Despite being 67 years old, Viet’s aspiration to pay tribute to Vietnamese mothers still remains. Her love and respect for the mothers is huge source of support for her to stay strong enough to follow the order from her heart.

Source: VietNamNet

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