ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI

FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI
FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH
Edited by JØrn Middelborg

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Published by Thavibu Gallery Co. Ltd. Silom Galleria, Suite 308 919/1 Silom Road, Bangkok, 10500, Thailand Tel. (662) 266 5454, Fax. (662) 266 5455 Email. info@thavibu.com, www.thavibu.com Photography by Songgot Kondee, Thailand and Van Duong Duc Son, Sweden (p. ??) if not otherwise stated Layout by Wanee Tipchindachaikul, Copydesk, Thailand Printed by Amarin Printing and Publishing Public Company Limited, Thailand Copyright Thavibu Gallery and Van Duong Thanh, 2006 All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. ISBN-13: 978-974-94951-8-6 ISBN-10: 974-94951-8-7

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI
FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Portrait of Bui Xuan Phai, 1988 By Van Duong Thanh Charcoal on paper 26 x 36 cm

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

ART WORK BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Table of Contents
Foreword by Jørn Middelborg Bui Xuan Phai - The Artist of Hanoi by Shireen Naziree Remembering Bui Xuan Phai by Van Duong Thanh The Streets of Hanoi Family Portraits of Van Duong Thanh by Van Duong Duc Son Portraits of Friends and Colleagues Other Portraits Nudes Village Life Celebrations 6 7 14 19 25 32 52 58 61 64 70

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FOREWORD
Jørn Middelborg

Thavibu Gallery is honoured to present works by the Vietnamese master artist Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988); all stemming from one private collection. Bui Xuan Phai is often considered the most well known, and influential of Vietnamese artists in the second half of the 20th century. The works in the catalogue hail from the private collection of Van Duong Thanh, an artistic soul mate and a respected and accomplished artist in her own right. These are mostly works on paper - drawings and paintings on a variety of paper media, even newspaper and pages torn out of books, as paper was hard to come by at times. Most of the works are portraits. Many of them are of his friends in Hanoi. They are intimate representations by a master who captured the essence of his models’ personalities with exquisite precision. Works included in the catalogue were produced in the period 1950-1988. Some have been shown at museum exhibitions, but many of them have never been seen in public. They clearly have historical value in addition to their artistic attributes. As all works are summoned from the collection of Van Duong Thanh, the authenticity of the works is beyond doubt. This is important since copies and counterfeits are now commonplace, some have even made it to international auctions. By publicizing her collection Van Duong Thanh wants to honour the memory of Phai, and this catalogue gives first hand information about the man and his art. The catalogue is the result of a close collaboration between Van Duong Thanh and Thavibu Gallery. I would like to thank her and Van Duong Duc Son for giving us access to this unique collection and for sharing Phai’s works with a wider audience. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Shireen Naziree, art historian and independent curator, who has written the essay on Phai, placing his work in a historical context. She has also been instrumental in the editing of the catalogue. Finally, I would like to thank Dorota Pietruszewska for her editing assistance and with her help in finalizing the catalogue.

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

BUI XUAN PHAI - THE ARTIST OF HANOI
Shireen Naziree

This catalogue brings together a range of works produced by Bui Xuan Phai in the twenty years of his friendship with the artist Van Duong Thanh, whom he first met in 1968 when she was a sixteen year old art student at the Hanoi Fine Arts College. Bui Xuan Phai’s reputation as one of the most prolific modern painters of Vietnam echoes a practice that informs of serendipitous moments, of free artistic association, and of purposeful intuition. On that note, there is melancholy - one that tells of an artist’s lament and tender relationship - to the detail of his art. Bui Xuan Phai was born on the 1st of September 1920 into a typical Confucian family of Hanoi. His father, Bui Xuan Ho was educated under the French colonial system, held a number of influential government posts and instilled the pride of the family’s intellectual reputation in his children. His typically feudal father, with whom Phai did not share a close relationship, did not favor his lack of interest in following the medical tradition of his grandfather and uncle, or at the very least become a man of letters - a choice that would have carried great prestige. However just before his death in 1940, Bui Xuan Ho received news that Phai, then 20 years old and a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Hanoi had sold his first painting and that his paintings had been selected for an exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. The idea of becoming an artist came to Phai early. In his youth he drew cartoons for newspapers and with the royalties that he earned, he enrolled himself into the introductory course at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine. In July 1941 he officially joined the 14th course, together with another artistic icon Nguyen Tu Nghiem. The principle foundation of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was to train artists within the traditional thematic principles encompassing traditional arts. Phai was in constant critique over this identity and found himself often charged in difficult discourse with the principle instructor of painting, Joseph Inguimberty who did not advocate the invasion of the Western influences such as Matisse and other modern European painters of the time into the realm of Vietnamese art. On another level, To Ngoc Van - the noted Vietnamese art educator at the college encouraged the expansion of expressive realism. Such simulation of artistic schools became important, for it bound up the spirit of nationhood with a Western aesthetic.

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The political turmoil that was to envelope North Vietnam in the following years shaded the balance of art. When the Japanese ousted the French in 1945, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was closed down. Culture and politics would be reworked into becoming mere vehicles for communication of political content, reinforced under the new leadership of Ho Chi Minh, who in September 1945 became the first leader of a newly independent North Vietnam. Phai along with other young artists contributed willingly and eagerly to the political moment of the time by painting portraits of Ho Chi Minh and his comrades during the cultural week, held in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence. The celebration of the revolution brought about a romantic fascination shared by many on the cultural front, who saw the new political agency as a positive development that reinforced a sense of nationalistic collectivity. Bui Xuan Phai together with Nguyen Tu Nghiem were amongst the cultural intellectuals who joined the patriotic resistance exodus from Hanoi into the countryside. This organization established a new paradigm. It imposed a shift from the romantic expressionism associated with French colonial Indochina,
Bui Xuan Phai, 1986 Photo by Do Huan

supplanting it with socialist realism that included circuiting the new Vietnamese identity with politically useful propaganda poster art, mostly dedicated to the revolution.

Given the controlled order of the revolutionary experience, the promise of liberation inspired many artists. For others, it created an intellectual vacuum. Resisting this model of representation, Phai eventually returned to Hanoi in 1952 and back to his paternal home at 87 Thuoc Bac Street, together with his wife whom he had met and married while still attached to the resistance movement. In 1953, Phai converted part of his small home, which by this time was just a small room, into a studio. This was open to his artist friends with whom he shared the same challenges of pointing to the true meaning of art. While many of these artists occupied a variety of positions within the field of art at the time, it was Bui

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Xuan Phai who stood astride the threshold of Vietnamese contemporary art more than anyone else. With a personal history - filled with pathos and weak health, which tracked across several decades until his death in 1988 - brought about the oeuvre of Bui Xuan Phai, one of the greatest South East Asian artists of the twentieth century. Unwilling to recognize the conventional boundaries between his art and the political agency of Ho Chi Minh’s revolution, Phai refused to bow to political culture, instead submitting himself to the free association of artistic expressionism, which was an integral part of the rhythm of his life. Though Phai would live most of his life in poverty, he was never distant to the artistic developments and activities that encompassed Hanoi. This included a short teaching stint at the Hanoi Fine Arts College, which was re-established in Hanoi in 1955. Though Phai loved teaching, he was asked to resign from his teaching post, as he obviously did not fit the required revolutionary mould. This incident represented one of the harshest moments in his life, as he truly loved the artistic interaction with his students. His loss of income to enabling him to support his family was equally disparaging. Phai’s return to his artistic roots provided venue for exaggerated attention by the revolutionary government, though he himself was totally disinterested in politics or the entanglement of cultural and political agency. His intellectual dynamism characterized the totality of his artistic activism that is best documented through his lifelong association with Hanoi’s cultural icons and artists with whom he would spend many hours discussing or debating the agency of art - often in the small cafes of Hanoi. Together with Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Duong Bich Lien and Nguyen Sang, Phai constituted the “Four Pillars” - a collective that represented the demarcation between the French influenced romantic period and the indigenous influenced art. Phai as an artist understood the intellectual rigor of knowing his subject and that the sensuous practice of drawing and painting need not be separate activities. Phai’s Hanoi was a city with a painful history that not only evoked heightening emotions for him, but also allowed him to take in multiple images and ideas. Well known and well loved by everyone in Hanoi, Phai would roam the narrow streets and alleys acknowledging every detail and mood of the city with a truly authentic experience. His streets were characterized with an unusual cool discipline of architectural grid overlapped with the emotions of romantic landscape painting. Each individual drawing and painting is a beautiful example of Phai’s draftsmanship as he skillfully re-constructed an art historical vocabulary which captured the spiritual essence of Hanoi.

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Installed in horizontal rows, the strength of Phai’s street scenes did not solely rest on his draftsmanship, but rather in the originality that they produced - although he would often replicate variations on the same composition: gray brooding vistas at times devoid of life, suggesting both a presence and an absence. However each image was made unique by subtle differences, subliminally emphasizing the contrast between the physical reality and the seductiveness of his personal sentiments of sincerity and angst that continuously swarmed through his art. However, the casual and charming serenity of his streets provided caustic critique from the officials of the Communist Party who interpreted Phai’s Hanoi’s streetscapes corrosively. This in turn led to the questioning of his motives and his identity, despite the fact that he was totally disinterested in politics or for that matter in anything else other than his art and his family. In Phai’s understanding, his drawings and paintings of Hanoi meant acknowledging part of his collective self: pointing to what made his life worth living and to the infinitive love that was his creative core. It was not necessarily an attempt to recreate anything but more than a scripture of actual place - one that would ultimately be read as profoundly telling, as if these were physical expressions of his personal solitude and marginal circumstances. For Phai, the landscape of Hanoi was emotional and by expressing it in a familiar and simple form - it could be easily understood. But then again, the range of understandability was very complex under the Vietnamese political climate of the era. Ironically today - Phai’s Hanoi streetscapes have reached new dimensions of reality. The art-historical weaving of his imagery continues to be read as the most subtly poetic art. Along with the explosion of change and the new artistic activity in the altered economic and cultural landscape of modern Vietnam, reproductions have saturated the art market, often questioning the authenticity of some of his “works”. In 1957, the Vietnam Fine Arts Association was formed. The Communist Party laid down a policy that required artists to relocate to the countryside and partake in manual labor together with peasants and local farmers, with whom they would cohabit. In 1958, Phai was sent to Nam Dinh where he worked in a carpentry workshop thus acquiring useful skills in making his own frames and easels. It was also in 1958 when his mother Madame Tran Thi Van sold the family home at 87 Thuoc Bac Street and distributed the proceeds of the sale amongst her children. Phai leased back one room in the house, where he and his family lived until his death in 1988.

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Newspaper drawing, 1984

There was much to attribute for the visual muscle of Phai’s art. Like many of his fellow artists, he had to multi-task in order to make ends meet. Drawing and painting allowed Phai to communicate and describe his world to others and through his regular contributions of newspaper illustrations and cartoons, he not only supported his family but coaxed many to reap pleasure from his illustrations, often an amalgam of forms and diagrams as mesmerizing as the narrative itself. Phai was interested in looking at art from ancient to contemporary as well as from European to Vietnamese, seeking out truths and how it would impact his creativity. He acknowledged the function

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that art possessed and did not limit himself to any one artistic tradition. Phai was able to enter a similar level of inspiration whether he designed theatre sets or emulated the traditional style of folk art pointing to his individual realization that not only impacted his creativity but more importantly extended beyond his humble ego, which was distinguished by a quiet humanism. As an artist, Phai was interested in the works of the great European artists and held great admiration for artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Chagall amongst others. In his diaries, he often acknowledged the multiple perspectives that these famous artists addressed and thus reminded himself of the critical importance of the contours of art regardless of his economic circumstances. Without any compromise, Phai did not allow himself to remain pinned to canvass and good paper but created some of his most monumental works on newsprint or virtually any surface on which his drawings and paintings could cling. With such uncompromising determination to negate even the traditional function of materials, he filled his world with his beloved art - often trading drawings and paintings for needs to sustain his home and family. Drawing enjoyed a very special and close relationship to Phai’s psyche. Often his primary medium, Phai used drawing to inscribe the personal, the subjective and the intimate, which allowed his drawings to speak so powerfully even today. The informality and immediacy with which he addressed his subjects was an essential part of his creative process. Whereas paintings are often determined about layers covering and concealing - drawing is about revealing the artist’s emotion at that moment and through it Phai, more than any artist of his generation, recognized the freedom from historical and critical baggage that drawing allowed. His free-association with drawing was often exemplified with scrawled images and text culled from his thoughts of the moment. And through the very simplicity of his drawing materials, which often was as simple as pencil or paint on newsprint, he created some of his most subtly interesting works. Throughout his career, Phai explored a dialogue with the human form. His studies of nudes examined the body with grace and certainly bear the mark of his European art education. But it is through portraiture, often depicted in small-scale artworks, where Phai found intimacy with his creative vision. His self-portraits gave form to his varying emotional states through to the allegory of his physical experience. Through the drawings and sketches of his family and friends, which were rife with classical allusions reminiscent of the classical genre of classical French Impressionism, Phai formed a pictorial dialogue that was best understood within the cultural context of his time. Because of his close associations with friends who shared the same understanding for artistic debates regarding the connection between their cultural and

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ideological positions, Phai was never totally isolated in his personal solitude. Drawing permitted him to capture treasured and tender moments of these friendships, visually striking personal dimensions that would be captured with simple pencil strokes - at times resonating with sparse accents of color. Here Phai was able to revel in uncovering the subtle details of his subjects and provided an insight to the common bonds of their relationships. Van Duong Thanh first met Bui Xuan Phai in 1968 when she was a sixteen-year-old art student at the Hanoi Fine Arts College. However, she had admired his art since she was much younger, often saving clippings of his newspaper illustrations and cartoons. The friendship that developed between them over the twenty years until his death, originated in art and was built on the intellectual rigor of their shared love of art. And since relationships were at the heart of Phai’s artistic practice, many of his drawings originated in his encounters with Van Duong Thanh. Often they encompassed simple gestures and forms and despite their visual economy, they were always appropriated with a generosity that combined an acute sense of respect and sincerity. In the same formal dimension of scholarly rigor and inner eye, Van Duong Thanh often painted and sketched Phai with contemporary concern that echoed his fragile and gentle demeanor. By 1982, the Vietnamese Communist Party finally acknowledged that Bui Xuan Phai had never been politically motivated or involved in any subversive activities and finally accorded him recognition of his artistic prominence - though by this stage of his life he had resigned himself to a life of poverty and strife, often subsisting on his wife’s meager salary as a nurse and the generosity of close friends such as Van Duong Thanh, who would often share her own earnings with Phai and his family with whom she continues to share a close friendship to this day. After his death in 1988, he was posthumously honored with the President Ho Chi Minh Medal for his contribution to Vietnam’s art history. Throughout his life and even now in death Bui Xuan Phai touched the heart and soul of Hanoi through his art. As Van Duong Thanh related “Phai painted in his heart until his dying breath.”

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REMEMBERING BUI XUAN PHAI
VAN DUONG THANH

“How did you know of me?” asked Bui Xuan Phai when we first met in 1968, over tea at the home of Mr. Sinh Thy. “I enjoy reading Van Nghe” the art and literary newspaper that published your drawings, which I have saved in an album” I replied. Phai’s touching smile - that moment - sealed a friendship that would span for over twenty years. In person, Phai was as I had imagined him to be, through his art that I enjoyed - thin and frail, his long melancholic face accented with a high, sharp nose, his large doleful eyes brimming with humanity, quietly mirroring the hardship that had been his constant companion. My own journey with formal art began when I was eleven years old in Hanoi. In 1963, I was accepted to study at the Hanoi Fine Arts College through the recommendation of the renowned sculptor and art professor, Diep Minh Chau who had seen my drawings. The following seven years were filled with a rigorous art education that was modeled on the same curriculum, set out by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine where Phai himself once studied. As a student, the works of the classical European masters fascinated me, but I was equally enamored by the drawings and paintings of Phai. I marveled at the way he captured the depth and beauty of his subjects, with a few simple strokes and found even his signature to be unique and alive. My fascination with his art propelled me to forgo meals at times, and to use my own meager allowance to buy Van Nghe allowing me to feast on his art instead. 87 Thuoc Bac Street is an address that still resounds with respect through Hanoi’s art circles, once the comfortable patriarchal home and stationery shop of his family. However, Phai and his family were reduced to living in a room of twenty-four square meters when I first visited their home. After the August Revolution in 1954, the building was seized by the state, and the rooms leased to some twenty families. Phai leased back his small room on the dilapidated ground floor, which not only served as his home, but also as the offices of the People’s Committee. Hanoi at the time was a city clouded with angst and poverty. Nevertheless, despite the humbleness of the small dark room that was his abode, the doors to Phai’s home were always open to visitors. Friends

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were welcomed along with the dozens of people from all walks of life who sought medical attention from Madame Phai who worked as a nurse. In order to earn extra money to supplement Phai’s meager earnings, Madame Phai would administer medical attention to patients from home, after her working hours at the Vietnam-Cuba hospital. In this small habitat that served as the living quarters for the family of seven as well as a waiting room for the countless patients and visitors, a small corner of it was converted into Phai’s studio. This one square meter of space was Phai’s utopia - sparsely furnished with a low folding chair positioned deep in the corner and a small tea table that was littered with brushes, palettes and tubes of color - mostly twisted till almost empty. Devoid of any privacy - in this tiny room, I often sensed the patience with which Phai unselfishly observed this world of suffering around him. It was touching to feel the stillness with which people would religiously enter this space and through their own humbleness show respect to the artist. The depth with which Phai would capture some of these moments of suffering and the kindness with which Madame Phai would administer medical aid, acquired special meaning through his sketches and drawings that now adorn the walls of some of the most prestigious museum and private collections. A quiet and shy man, Phai painted everything that caught his eye with a religious obsession. Because of his dire economic circumstances, he drew and painted on anything he could find, matchboxes, cardboard, both sides of a newspaper or at times on the surface of his older paintings. Whether he painted the streets of Hanoi or the people that encompassed his world, his paintings and drawings were almost always small, at times even on tiny bits of paper. With his superlative aesthetic, mundane grays and whites came alive in his works, each rendering a simple line or swift brushstroke which would dance with a passion and sensitivity that exemplified Phai’s genius, and enriched my world and that of all those around him. Phai drew much of his strength from the devotion of his wife. Madame Phai belonged to a select generation of women who, despite the strife of two wars and the personal hardship that included the premature death of her young son, Bui Ky Anh, nurtured her family with feminine grace and dignity. She had absolute faith in her husband’s artistic genius and remained stellar in their relationship, especially in the most difficult moments in which Phai was marginalized by the authorities. Madame Phai generously welcomed Phai’s friends and welcomed me with warmth into her world, fostering a friendship, which I continue to enjoy until this day. Phai had many friends, and enjoyed lifelong friendships with Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Nguyen Sang

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whom he met when they were students. Together these three artists set an important benchmark for Vietnamese contemporary art with the works they produced throughout the 1950s. Besides Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Nguyen Sang, Phai enjoyed a particularly close friendship with Dang Quoc Hung and Dang Ngoc Bach, both of whom had impeccable taste in art. Bach spent much time in the company of Phai, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Nguyen Sang and myself, often assisting us in our studios. Today Dang Ngoc Bach is regarded as one of Hanoi’s most renowned lacquer painters. My own friendship with Phai was built on our common passion for art. Phai painted more than three hundred portraits of me. I was always a willing model, enjoying every image that he created regardless of the mood or character that he captured or portrayed. In the early 1970’s he painted many versions of “A Portrait of Van Duong Thanh” which were featured in the newspapers Van Nghe and Nguoi Hanoi. Some of them now are in private collections including that of Duc Minh, the most renowned Vietnamese art collector of the period, and Nguyen
Van Duong Thanh posing for Phai as a model 1986, Photo by Nguyet Dieu

Van Lam, the owner of the renowned Lam Café. Lady in Red Blouse was one of the most famous paintings that Phai painted of me. One evening in

April 1975, Phai together with Sinh Thy had visited my home in Hanoi where they spent some time drinking strong vodka with my brother Dr Van Anh. Phai, bored with the debate on politics that ensued between Van Anh and Sinh Thy, came to see me to study my latest paintings instead. In his dazed, somewhat drunken state, he expressed the desire to paint although it was well past midnight. Thus on a 65 x 55 cm canvass, Phai captured me brushing my hair. The result was one of his most monumental paintings. It captured the delicate sophistication of womanhood. A painting that perfectly exemplifies the swift delicateness with which he could capture the essence of a moment. I returned the painting to Phai, as I felt it truly belonged to him. He exhibited it in a group show in Hanoi in October 1975. The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum acquired Lady in Red Blouse for three hundred Dong,

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and it was not publicly exhibited until sixteen years later, three years after Phai’s death, in an exhibition titled “Exhibition of Previously not shown Collections of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum.” Phai willingly shared his intimate knowledge of Hanoi with me; teaching me to love and understand the city and its people. We spent many afternoons wandering through its streets and sometimes we would paint together - an activity that often left Phai even more enthused with inspiration. Amongst some of the significant scenes that he painted during these outings are The Alley by the Tran Quoc Pagoda and Views of the West Lake, the Literature Tower and Van Mieu Temple. On occasions we would dine on pho (noodle soup); at small, nondescript cafés and noodle shops, where his presence was always welcomed. The most famous of the cafés that Phai patronized was the Café Lam. Now a landmark in Hanoi, Café Lam opened in 1954 at 54 Nguyen Huu Huan Street in the center of Hanoi, not far from the Red River. The café’s original owner, Nguyen Van Lam, earned renown for his generous patronage of art. A small, fragile man, clad in typical brown peasant dress, he was not wealthy and had little education. However, his lack of education belied his talent for recognizing the value of antiques and artifacts. He was able to identify antiques and porcelain with the intellect and eye of an archaeologist. Consequently, his collection of antiques and artifacts was rare and valuable. However, it was his collection of Vietnamese contemporary art that he amassed through his friendship with Hanoi’s most renowned artists such as Phai for which he is now remembered. On my first visit to the café with Phai, I was enthralled by his collection of paintings that included rare works by the Paris based Vietnamese artists such as Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam and Le Thi Luu as well as works by Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Van Cao, Duong Bich Lien, Ta Ty and of course Bui Xuan Phai. Though I appreciated the art of these famous artists, I was most touched by Mr Lam’s collection of Phai’s paintings. They covered the entire spectrum of his artistic career, starting at the time he left the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Painted on jute, with poor quality oils, the collection included Quan Chuong Port, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi’s Resistance Against France and Portraits of Hanoi Ladies. The second largest Vietnamese collector after the millionaire Duc Minh, Lam’s art collection was largely a product of his philanthropic nature, and allowing artists to pay for their meals at his café with paintings. Nguyen Van Lam was honored by being invited to display his art collection at the Louvre in Paris in 1999. This was a true acknowledgement of his forty-year contribution to the history of Vietnamese Contemporary

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Art. Amongst the artworks in this exhibition were those of Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Tu Nghiem and of course, those of Phai, artists marginalized for their ideals. In 2000, twelve years after his death, Phai was honored with a solo exhibition entitled “Swedes Meet Phai” at the Swedish Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, which I had the privilege of opening together with a former Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam, Börge Ljungren. Sadly, Phai had his first solo exhibition in the exhibition hall of the Vietnam Fine Art Association as late as 1984. This was later followed by another exhibition in March 1988 at the Hanoi Fine Arts Association, showcasing works from private collections. Phai’s exhibition coincided with my own, which was on display at the same venue. On his visits to my show, he painted me sitting in front of my paintings as well as those of the noted author and composer, Nguyen Dinh Thi and Van Cao who composed Vietnam’s national anthem as well as the numerous musical compositions that remain popular today. It was soon after this exhibition that Phai’s health started failing. In May 1988 together with my sister, Hong, I visited Phai for the last time. Despite his extreme weakness and inability to talk, his welcome was as warm as always and in his usual cheerful self enquired after my paintings and forthcoming exhibition. His only request was to have one of the portraits that I painted of him. Phai passed away at 2.00am on the 24th of June 1988. Vietnam’s art community and all who knew this gentle and generous man, who knew kindness and humility, mourned his death with great sorrow. His funeral, organized by both the Vietnam Art Association and the Hanoi Art Association, was held in the same exhibition venue where we both held our simultaneous exhibitions. And as a final tribute to Phai, we carried his coffin through the flower lined old streets of Hanoi - the city that he so loved.
Van Duong Thanh with Madame Phai at Phai’s Altar in their house in Hanoi, 2006

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THE STREETS OF HANOI

Phai’s depictions of the streets of Hanoi are legendary. He was enamored by the city’s narrow streets, which he lovingly reconstructed in his art. Hanoi Street in the Moonlight / Nude, is typically representative of his visual essays - a simple but strong expression rendered in watercolor. Often lacking materials to work with, Phai in this case, as in many others, used the reverse of the drawing to sketch a young woman savoring the moonlight. Another characteristic of Hanoi loved and often documented by Phai is the café culture of Hanoi. Cha Dong Corner is a place where he and Van Duang Thanh often met for coffee. These coffee sessions were often predeceased by sessions in which Van Duang Thanh would accompany Phai to paint. Tomb Stones of Mandarins in Van Mieu Temple is a drawing that Phai executed on one such excursion. Phai was known to have designed sets for plays The People in My Street created for a performance staged by Nguyen Bac, a friend of Phai.

Hang Dau Street in the Rain 1987, 20 x 28 cm Oil on Canvas Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Couple by Hoan Kiem Lake, 1987, 20 x 28 cm Oil on Canvas Signed

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Lan and Phai’s Grandson in Thuoc Bac Street, ca 1970, 16.5 x 24 cm Oil on Canvas Signed

Thuoc Bac Street, 1984, 12 x 18 cm

Oil on Board

Signed

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Hang Bac Street / Nude, 1963, 13 x 17 cm Pen and Pastel / Pencil on Paper

Hang Bac Street, ca 1974, 15 x 19 cm Oil on Paper Signed

Hang Thiec Café, 1975, 6 x 9 cm Gouache on Paper Box Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

Hang Bac Corner, 1980, 10 x 14.5 cm Ink on Paper

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Cha Dong Corner, 15.6.1978, 11.5 x 16.5 cm Oil and Blue Pen on Paper Signed

Hang Chinh Street, 1972, 10.5 x 15.5 cm Oil on Cardboard Signed

Hanoi Street in the Moon Light / Nude, ca 1970, 11 x 16 cm Watercolour / Marker Pen on Paper

Hanoi Street, Undated, 12 x 16.5 cm Watercolour / Marker Pen on Paper

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Huyen Street and Hanoi Cathedral / Man and Child, ca 1975 10 x 14.5 cm Pencil and Pen on paper on a Book Page Tomb Stones of Mandarins in Van Mieu Temple, 1980 20 x 28 cm Blue Pen on Paper Signed

Hang But Street / Dancing Couple, Undated 19 x 22.5 cm Black Ink on Paper

Drawing for the play “The People in My Street” by Nguyen Bac Undated, 23 x 39 cm Gouache on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

FAMILY

Throughout his life, Phai remained passionate about his family, who in their everyday movements were often poignant subjects of his art. Seated Nude (Madame Phai,) is characteristic of his nudes, they were always of real women, sometimes even mothers filled with experience of life - but never idolized slim models. Though by 1980 Phai had gained artistic recognition both in Vietnam and abroad and no longer had difficulty supporting his family - his wife, Madame Phai continued to work as a nurse and would only relax after her daily chores, typically with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Madame Phai Reading the Newspaper captures such a moment. A nurse by profession, Madame Phai would supplement the family income by administering medical aide from home as depicted in Madame Phai Giving an Injection at Home. Little Lan wearing her School Scarf is a portrait of Phai’s eldest daughter who inherited her father’s looks and artistic talent, though she would not pursue a career in art. In Y Lan on Green Background, Phai captured her sensitivity and kindness through his gentle lines and through her bright and limpid eyes. Madame Phai with Phai’s Mother reflects the bond the two women shared.

Madame Phai Reading the Newspaper 5.8.1980, 18 x 27 cm Ink on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

25

Little Tram Sleeping, 1969, 12 x 12 cm Black and Blue Bic Pens on Paper

Litlle Lan Wearing her School Scarf, 1962, 18 x 25 cm Pastel on Paper

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Seated Nude (Madame Phai), ca. 1956 18 x 25 cm Ink on Paper

Madame Phai with Phai’s Mother, 1952, 8 x 21 cm Pencil on Paper

Madame Phai Sewing, 1952, 19 x 24 cm Pencil on Paper Madame Phai Looking into the Distance ca 1950, 19 x 27 cm Charcoal on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Madame Phai Pregnant with Second Child Phuong 1956, 17 x 26 cm Pencil on Paper

Madame Phai Giving an Injection at Home, 1967, 22 x 36 cm Blue Pen on Paper

Madame Phai Holding Son Ky Anh 1956, 15.5 x 25 cm Pencil on Paper

Madame Phai Pregnant with son Phuong, 1956, 11.5 x 17 cm Pen on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Blue Madame Phai, 3.4.1986, 27 x 39 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Bui Ky Anh - Phai’s First Son 27.4.1975, 26 x 39 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

Lan Knitting scarf for Phai / Van Duong Thanh’s Profiles Undated, 14.5 x 21.5 cm Oil and Pastel / Pen on Cardboard Signed Tram on Blue Background 1976, 9 x 12 cm Ink and Watercolour on Paper

Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Daughter Lan with Phai’s Mother ca 1968, 20 x 26.5 cm Pastel on Cardboard Signed

Lan and Her First Baby, 2.6.1981, 15 x 17 cm Soft Black Pen and Watercolour on Book Page

Baby Lan, 1954, 6.5 x 7.5 cm Marker Pen on Paper Signed Collection of Mme Phai, given to Van Duong Thanh Y Lan on Green Background 20.7.1979, 12 x 18 cm Pastel and Watercolour on Paper

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Phai’s son Phuong Sleeping 1969, 13.5 x 19 cm Cuu Long Ink on Paper

Phai’s Son Phuong Working Under the Oil Lamp (War Time)/Van Duong Thanh’s Portrait, 15.8.1975/1969, 13 x 20.5 cm Soft Pen on Paper

Phai’s Son Studying/Portraits, Undated, 13 x 19 cm Pen on paper Signed

Young Son Phuong/Nude, 15.11.1969, 13 x 13.5 cm Black Pen and Pastel on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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PORTRAITS OF VAN DUONG THANH
VAN DUONG DUC SON

Bui Xuan Phai and Van Duong Thanh shared a very special friendship and Van Duong Thanh became the subject of many of Phai’s drawings and paintings. Nguyen Phan Chanh (1892-1984) often commented on Van Duong Thanh’s classically Vietnamese features. In The Moonlight Lady Phai captured her almond shaped eyes framed by her round face lit only by the moonlight. During the cold winters of Hanoi, Van Duong Thanh would wear a headband to keep her warm. It was also during the winter, when Phai would suffer most from colds and swore that painting was the best remedy for his ailments. It was during the winter of 1974 when he drew Van Duong Thanh with Polka Dotted Headband. Van Duong Thanh painted in Japanese style is another portrait which is typical of the simplicity and fluidity of lines with which Phai was able to capture the moment and personality of his subjects. Though Van Duong Thanh had been abroad for a number of years, Phai would often draw or paint her portrait when she returned to Vietnam - though each picture would have its own distinct personality and though the pose might have been the same as in the past as seen in Van Duong Thanh Clasping Her Hands. Phai and his friends would often visit her at home, Van Duong Thanh Glancing over her Shoulder, was drawn during one of Phai’s visits together with the actor and painter, Tran Trung Tin. Van Duong Thanh wearing a Summer Dress was also painted on one of his visits to her home. It was also the last large oil painting he painted of her. Both Van Duong Thanh wearing a Pink Blouse and Van Duong Thanh in Orange Ao Dai Dress are oils on canvas that Phai painted of her on visits to the Van family home before her departure to live in Europe. Phai would paint on virtually anything he could find. Van Duong Thanh in Ao Dai Dress by the Hoan Kiem Lake, is one such example and was exhibited at an exhibition, honoring Phai in Stockholm in 2000.

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh with Pink Cheeks, 16.11.74, 45.5 x 55.5 cm Oil on Canvas Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh Wearing a Pink Pink Blouse 1974, 46 x 51cm Oil on Canvas Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

Gentleness, 17.11.1974, 50 x 58 cm Oil on canvas Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh wearing a Red Flowered Blouse 31.3.1975, 31.5 x 41.5 cm Oil on Carton Board Signed

Van Duong Thanh in Orange Ao Dai Dress 28.10.1974, 85 x 54 cm Oil on Canvas Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh Wearing a Summer Dress 25.9.1986, 44.5 x 53.5 cm Oil on Canvas Signed

Van Duong Thanh Reading a Book 29.12.1974, 34.5 x 54.5 cm Oil on Carton Board Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh in Contemplative Mood 10.4.1975, 26 x 38 cm Soft Black Pen on Paper

Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Eyes Closed, 1974, 30 x 40 cm Watercolour on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh with Blue Hair, 8.1.1975, 27 x 38 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Blue Headband, 8.12.1974, 27 x 38 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Headband, Looking Down 23.1.1975, 26 x 38 cm Black Pastel on Paper Signed

The Moonlight Lady, 8.12.1974, 25 x 35 cm Oil Pastel on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh Whispering, 28.10.1974, 21 x 30 cm Soft Black Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Polka Dotted Head Band 28.1.1974, 10 x 17 cm Ink on Paper

Van Duong Thanh in Earth Tones, 8.12.1974, 27 x 35 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Pinned-up Hair 24.2.1975, 16 x 20 cm Ink and Watercolour on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh painted in Japanese Style 28.8.1978, 14 x 20 cm Ink on Paper Van Duong Thanh in Pastel 17.2.1977, 28 x 40 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Long Lashes 9.5.1975, 28 x 40 cm Black Gouache on Brown Paper Signed

Portrait of Van Duong Thanh with Phai’s Statement ca 1970, 16.5 x 22 cm Soft Blue Pen and Pen on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh in Polka Dotted Blouse, 17.10.1978, 28 x 39 cm Pencil on Paper Signed

Blue Van Duong Thanh 5.7.1983, 20 x 30 cm Blue Pen on paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Crossed Arms 15.1.1987, 25 x 35 cm Marker Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Looking over her Shoulder, 15.1.1987, 25 x 36 cm Marker Pen on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh in Ao Dai Dress by the Hoan Kiem Lake 1981, 26 x 40 cm (max) Oil on Bamboo Fan Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh with Flowers 23.1.1982, 28 x 40 cm Gouache on Newspaper Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

Van Duong Thanh in Red Dress Holding Flowers 1982, 11 x 15 cm Gouache on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh at the New Year (Tet) Flower Market 18.1.1985, 29 x 42 cm Gouache on newspaper Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh with Black Curls 30.1.1983, 29 x 40 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Glancing over her Shoulder 20.8.1986, 30 x 42 cm Charcoal on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh with Pink Lipstick and Kimono, 1984, 22 x 31 cm Watercolour on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Blushing 16.4.1988, 30 x 40 cm Soft Coloured Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh wearing Pink Scarf 28.12.1985, 30 x 41 cm Watercolour on Hand Made Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Wearing Pink Headscarf 25.12.1985, 21 x 28.5 cm Pastel on paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh Drawing Bui Xuan Phai 30.1.1988, 30 x 40 cm Soft Coloured Pen on Paper Signed Van Duong Thanh Reading a Book 24.9.1986, 27 x 40 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh Leaning on one Arm 20.8.1986, 28 x 40 cm Pastel and Ink on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Shedding a Tear 20.9.1988, 29 x 40 cm Ink and Watercolour on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh in Yellow T-Shirt 22.8.1986, 29 x 41 cm Watercolour on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh 20.8.1986, 27 x 40 cm Ink and Watercolour on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh in Blue Stripes 20.8.1986, 28 x 42 cm Watercolour on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Leopard Patterned Blouse 20.8.1986, 29 x 42 cm Watercolour on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh Clasping Her Hands, 8.11.1987, 21 x 27 cm Ink on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Squinting/Text and Man’s Portrait 1984, 20 x 30 cm Black Pen on Paper

Van Duong Thanh Immersed in Thoughts, 20.8.1986, 29 x 40 cm Ink on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Looking Down, 23.5.1986, 20 x 30 cm Blue Pen on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh Staring, 23.5.1986, 20 x 30 cm Blue Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh, Suspicious 23.5.1986, 21 x 30 cm Soft Blue Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Flowing Hair, 23.4.1988, 30 x 40 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh Looking Stern 23.4.1988, 19 x 28 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Van Duong Thanh with Head Bowed 10.7.1986, 20 x 29 cm Soft Black Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Curls 10.7.1986, 20 x 29 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh with Blue Outline Undated, 30 x 40 cm Soft Coloured pen on Paper Signed Van Duong Thanh with Messy Hair 15.1.1985, 25 x 36 cm Pen on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Van Duong Thanh at Hoan Kiem Lake /Mid-autumn Festival, Hang Main Street), Undated, 16 x 23 cm Pencil and Watercolour / Pen on Paper on Book Page

Portrait of Van Duong Thanh and a Man, 24.3.1984, 30 x 40 cm Blue Pen on Paper Signed

Van Duong Thanh by Hoan Kiem Lake 1985, 22.5 x 34 cm Pen on paper Illustration for the HNOI Magazine

Van Duong Thanh Holding Flowers 1982, 28.5 x 39.5 cm Pen on paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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PORTRAITS OF FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES

Despite his poverty, Phai was highly regarded in art circles, and throughout his life enjoyed lasting friendships with many renowned artists as well as the many ordinary people who filled his world. Portrait of Veronique is of a French woman who worked as a nanny at the French Embassy and who would often visit the Phai home. Portrait of Ms. Thuong is of Phai’s neighbour, who shared the same house. Portrait of Mr. Niet Niet is another example of Phai’s artistic zeal to paint on any available material. Mr. Niet remained a close friend to Phai until his death and arranged his funeral. Phai also made drawings of his artists friends the painters Nguyen Sang and Hoang Tich Chu. In Nguyen Sang Seated and Painting the artist was painting in Cam Pha Mine, Quang Ninh Province as part of the “education campaign for artists programme”.

Le Chinh and Kim Lan (Musician) ca 1982, 10.5 x 13.5 cm Chinese Ink and Gouache on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Portrait of Thanh Long (Artist) 1.1973, 27.5 x 39.5 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

Portrait of Nguyen Dinh Phuc (Composer), 23.4.1988, 20 x 30 cm Soft Black Pen on Paper Signed

Portrait of Ha Tuong (Photographer) 1972, 11.5 x 17 cm Charcoal on Paper

Portrait of Tran Thinh (Film director), 23.4.1988, 29 x 39 cm Charcoal on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Hoang Tich Chu Painting/Horse, 4.1957, 11 x 16 cm Pencil on paper Nguyen Sang Painting, 1965, 11.5 x 16 cm Pencil on Paper Signed

Portrait of Mr. Vinh (Painter) / Black Cat, 1981, 13 x 18.5 cm Watercolour on Paper

Nguyen Sang Seated and Painting ca 1960, 11.5 x 15.5 cm Pencil and blue pen on paper

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Portrait of Mr. Niet Niet/ Tram (Phai’s daughter) 30.4.1983, 12.5 x 20 cm Black and Blue Pens on Book Page

Portrait of Viet Chien (Army Colonel, Retired ca 1970) Undated, 12 x 16.5 cm Black Pen on Book Page Signed

Dang Quoc Hung ca 1970, 10 x 13.5 cm Pen on paper Signed

Portrait of Mr Hung 1966, 9.5 x 14.5 cm Pencil on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Portrait of Mr. Dam, Undated, 12 x 16 cm Black Pen on Book Page Signed Portrait of Le Chinh 23.6.1975, 18 x 28 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed Portrait of Le Chin, Undated, 11 x 18 cm Pen on paper

Portrait of Le Chin/Nude, Undated, 13 x 18 cm Pen on paper on a book page

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Portrait of Veronique Undated, 12 x 21 cm Oil on Cardboard Signed

Portrait of Mr Bong’s Daughter 23.7.1983, 20 x 28.5 cm Cuu Long Ink on Paper Signed

Portrait of Ms Thuong ca 1980, 13 x 13 cm Red oil and Pastel on Paper

Signed

Portrait of Hoang Viet Hang 15.4.1984, 22 x 30 cm Black Pen on Cardboard Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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OTHER PORTRAITS

Self Portrait, 11.11.1978, 20 x 28 cm Blue Ink on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Portrait of Picasso, 1968, 10 x 14 cm Black Pen on Paper Such a portrait was not allowed or officially endorsed during this time

A Scandinavian Man Using a Traditional Fan 1984, 23 x 31 cm Pen on Paper Signed

Portrait of a Woman Undated, 10 x 18 cm Pastel on Paper Signed

Two Portraits 4.6.1965/2.6.1965, 11.5 x 19 cm Pen on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Portrait of an Old Woman 20.9.1977, 20.5 x 24.5 cm Pencil and Pastel on Paper Signed The woman used to sell rice to Phai’s family

Portrait of an Unknown Woman 1.8.1974, 19 x 28 cm Ink on Paper

Little Son Reading 10.7.1986, 20 x 29 cm Soft Coloured Pen on Paper

Signed

Portrait of Son 17.1.1987, 27 x 38 cm Pen on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

NUDES

Phai was renowned for his nude drawings, sketches and paintings. Nude Resting on a Chair appears to be a model from the Hanoi art school, which was located at 42, Yet Kieu Street. Nude with Tilted Head was drawn at the home of Nang Hien, another artist friend of Phai’s.

Blue Nude, Undated, 37 x 56 cm Gouache on Paper Picture no. 140, page 78 in the book Bui Xuan Phai, Cuoc, Doi, Va Tac Pham, 1998

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Nude with White Scarf / Portrait of an Art Dealer, 8.1.1988, 24 x 30 cm Oil and Pastel on Paper / Pencil on Paper Signed

Nude Holding a Mirror, 1985, 24 x 33 cm Gouache on Paper Signed

Nude Resting on a Chair ca 1960-63, 19 x 27 cm Colour Pencil on Paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Reclining Nude, 1958, 11.5 x 18.5 cm Pencil on Paper

Dancing Nude, 1957, 12.5 x 27 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

Nude with Tilted Head 1978, 14 x 21 cm Blue Pen on Paper Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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VILLAGE LIFE

Phai, like many artists of his generation, spent time during the resistance in the Vietnamese countryside where they would often paint and capture the idyllic simplicity of village life in their art. Around 1956-7 Phai was sent by the government to the countryside to depict the lives of workers and peasants. Child Sucking His Thumb in the village of Chiem Hoa, 1956 was bought by Van Duong Thanh from Madame Phai after the artist’s demise as the child reminded her of her own childhood growing up in rural Vietnam. Woman with Protective Headgear/Nude/Old Man/Le Chinh is once again reflective of Phai’s adept use of material available to him. It was customary to use home made protective headgear during the war years. Da River is similar to a painting from the permanent collection of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. Mother and Child was another drawing executed during the resistance years. He felt particularly close to the poor peasants of the Vietnamese countryside and would often capture the scenery with emotion that mimic the reality of village life.

Da River 18.1.1979, 37 x 51 cm Gouache on Paper Signed Similar composition and subject as the oil painting no. 350, page 179 in the book Bui Xuan Phai, Cuoc, Doi Va Tac Pham, 1998

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Child Sucking on His Thumb in the Village of Chiem Hoa 1956, 13 x 19 cm Pastel on Paper

Woman Wearing a Headcarf, 1956, 10 x 18 cm Ink on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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A Farmer in Thanh Hoa 12.8.1957, 11.5 x 15 cm Pencil on Paper

Woman from the Dao Minority 1957, 15 x 19.5 cm Black Pen on Paper Signed

Sai Son Village, 1957, 15 x 20 cm Black Pencil and Colours Signed

Old Woman in Sai Son Village 1957, 12 x 18 cm Pencil on Paper

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Woman with Protective Head Gear / Nude / Old Man / Le Chinh, all 1967, 19 x 23 cm All Pen on Paper on a Book Page Mother & Child, ca. 1956, 10 x 14 cm Marker Pen on Paper

Two Peasants Reading Newspaper/Woman’s Hand, 1956, 12 x 18 cm Pen and Chinese ink on paper Two women from Thanh Hoa Province Mother and Child, 1967,13.5 x 19 cm Black Pastel and Gouache on Paper

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Green Landscape, 17.6.1979, 37 x 62 cm Gouache on Paper Signed

Thanh Hoa Village 1965, 11.5 x 18.5 cm Pencil on Paper

Tran Quoc Pagoda 29.10.1987, 20 x 27.5 cm Black Pen on Paper

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Horse in Cao Bang Province, 1956, 9 x 12 cm Black Pen on Paper Ceramic Vase, ca 1970, 12 x 16.5 cm Black Pen and Pastel on Paper

Cat Sleeping, 1967, 25 x 35 cm Black Ink Signed

Elephant, Undated, 13 x 19 cm Blue Pen on Paper From a Grave in Tay Nguyen, an ethnic minority area.

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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CELEBRATIONS

Festive celebrations feature prominently in Vietnamese culture and Phai would capture the essence of these events with the same joy that it spelt. Several of the pieces depicted below were exhibited at the Bui Xuan Phai Exhibition at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, Sweden in 2000.

Vietnamese Opera-Trio 1974, 28 x 52 cm (max) Oil on Bamboo Fan of Handmade Paper Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Scene from Mid-autumn Festival 1972, 25 x 37 cm Woodblock Print Signed

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Tree Planting Campaign with Uncle Ho, ca 1960, 21 x 27 cm Gouache on Cardboard Signed One of the very few times Phai painted Ho Chi Minh

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

Black Kitten, 1987, 18 x 24 cm Watercolour on Paper Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

Year of the Cat, 1987, 19 x 26 cm Gouache on Paper Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

Smiling Cat, 1975, 11 x 19 cm (max) Gouache on Cardboard Signed Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

Year of the Horse, 1978, 14 x 18 cm Gouache and Gold Leaf on Handmade Paper Exhibited at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, 2000

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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Hanoi Liberation Day/Van Duong Thanh Resting 20.6.1984, 21 x 29.5 cm Pencil on Paper Signed

Mid-autumn Festival, 10.12.1975, 14 x 19 cm Pastel, on Paper Vietnamese Soldiers welcomed as victors in 1954 20.6.1984, 21 x 29.5 cm Soft black pen and colours on paper Signed

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

New Year 1984 with Phai’s Drawing of Flowers, 1984, 43 x 57 cm Newspaper Plate

ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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ART WORKS BY BUI XUAN PHAI FROM THE COLLECTION OF VAN DUONG THANH

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