Tran Trung Tin


Tiếng chim thu


Oil on newspaper

65 x 38.70 cm

Tran Trung Tin, a talented man with an exceptional life, was born into a bizarre epoch of Vietnamese history. Stuck in extreme disillusionment and suppression, forbidden to speak up his thoughts, Tran Trung Tin turned to art. In this strange twist of fate, the once-actor/screenwriter spent the entire last half of his life painting ceaselessly and quietly; unexpectedly becoming one of the most absurd and brilliant phenomena of Vietnamese painting. 

Tran Trung Tin painted to release himself from oppression,
to seek salvation,
to break silence,
to not get lost or give up,
to hold onto his true self, with all its essence and ethos
He painted in a struggle “to overcome the atrocity we were all living in” (1)

Featured in Nguyen Art Foundation collection are some of Tran Trung Tin’s most prominent works from his series of figurative paintings on newspaper (created between 1972-1975 in Hanoi) and on photographic papers (created during the early 1980s when he had moved to Saigon). Evident in these works is the idiomatic symbolism that has concretized his name as one of Vietnam’s most prolific painters. The metaphoric image of the Hanoian girl with a rifle on her shoulder, the blossoming flower indicating hope and peace, the lonely, wounded bird representing the misunderstood voice of the marginalized. Though these images unveil the painful reality of post-war, ideological traumas, with brushstrokes free of constraint and a palette of the most pristine shades, Tran Trung Tin’s paintings still shine with a strange sense of innocence and solitude, as if the artist was trying to create for himself a sanctuary away from the war raging outside. 

Tran Trung Tin’s art courageously preserves and embraces what the people of his time had been forced to abandon in order to survive and adapt to the chaotic times that followed. A strange audacious bird, an outsider in his own Motherland, an outcast from his era, Tran Trung Tin’s continues to sing, as “Truth cannot be executed / Beauty cannot be buried” (2), giving voice to the muted, recalling memories of what was once denied by historical turbulences 

(1) Quoted from director Tu Huy, a friend of the artist 

(2) Excerpt from a poem Tran Trung Tin wrote in 1964 

(Edited from excerpts provided by Manzi Art Space)