Pham Luc’s Northern Vietnam Secret

The mysteries and legends in the wartime of Northern Vietnam before 1975 was described specifically underbrush works, colors and skilled shapes of the artist who is known as a master painter of Vietnamese arts. 

Pham Luc, who is one of the most famous artists in Vietnam, is often glorified by art collectors as Picasso. 

The art of Pham Luc depicts the histories, cultures, heritages, daily lives and Vietnamese humans as well from the past to the present. He can create art with any materials such as canvas, silking painting, woodcut, lacquer. 

However, Pham Luc’s branding works in the Vietnamese painting village are the authentic sketches in the Resistance War Against America which are drawn on the burlap sacks being made from the jute or woven yarns. 

The sketches on paper or burlap bags might depict slightly the secrets under the immense vast forest of Truong Son, after the Ham Rong battle or being sometimes the mood, fate and loss in the war.

The people who are an artist, as well as a soldier like Pham Luc, have gone through plenty of fierce battles and lots of wounds, losses and magnanimous moments, easily showing frankly and truly the hardships of the soldiers’ lives and how heating the battles can be. 

After finishing his study from Vietnam College Of Fine Art (1960 – 1965) and graduating from the Vietnam University Of Fine Art in 1977, Pham Luc attended the Vietnamese army within 35 years. He got involved in many battles, especially in Ham Rong. His haunting sketches about the battles which are drawn on paper or burlap sack are collected by the writer being named “The Bac Viet secret during the Resistance War Against America”. 

Summer in 1999, I visited this artist at his home and also his studio in Nghi Tam Street, he introduced about 10 sketches on the paper in the wartime which all were older than me. Beside cups of green tea manually embalmed with West Lake Lotus blossoms, he said that he had just found those sketches and brought them from Ha Tinh to Hanoi. 

He was eager to tell about the obsessive memories of war, life experiences, the people he met and portrayed, the beautiful countryside landscapes, marvelous mountain ranges, blue oceans, the loves amongst people during the war and final, the comradeship of between soldiers and residents. By the quick and simple sketch under the brilliant hands of the artist, the paintings but still present the authentic and idyllic charm. 

“This is war memories and a part of the national histories that I have kept until now. These pictures are only a few paintings left. Precious things should belong to a fine person. Since I very adore you, so I give it all to you. You will be the person who keeps the part of my artist-soldier life”, he told me. 

We were born in the 1970s when the country was in the process of unification. Therefore, we had no ideas about the war. Only when we heard many war stories from our family did we imagine more specifically about wartime and history. 

For me, the memories of the War Against America are the indelibly impressive stories that I heard from my grandparents, parents, and relatives as well. They used to live and fight in the North of Vietnam and had a common target “Across Truong Son to beat the Americans” to save the Nation and gain national unification like my father. 

I grew up with my father’s memories and the soldier stories of my grandfather from Old Ha Tay Province to the 17th parallel. My mother often told me about difficult and rough lives when the people have to produce the provisions and foods to relieve the battles and also are ready to fight and protect the village when needed. Besides, the women have the feeling of missing their husbands and are happy when receiving husband’s letters from the battle due to knowing that he’s still alive. They also feel the pain when a part of their body is lost due to booms.   

She told about the classes organized under the trenches to avoid unexpected booms, many students moved from the city to the countryside. The women played an important role not only in fighting to protect their houses, villages and the nation but also in working in the fields and producing provisions as men. They did anything since their husbands were against the enemy. 

Despite collecting so many paintings of Pham Luc, I get accessed to his first war sketches that leave me extremely profound impressions. The secrets and heating battles memories of the lives in Northern Vietnam before 1975 are captured completely in each picture from the brush strokes, colors to different shapes. With the brilliant combinations, this man had created the masterpieces. 

Pham Luc’s sketches are presented in different kinds of paper such as covers, newsprints, soft papers as well as all smooth materials that he uses to depict what he could see and feel. The contents of pictures might be the secret of soldiers and residents in the North during the wartime. 

His paintings are drawn during the 1965 – 1975 and shown on various materials with different topics. The quick sketches that the artist see, feel, grasp and convey quickly like being afraid of a moment of historical loss.

The shaping way is rustic, open-minded and simple mixed color as well as Pham Luc’s familiar style. Typically, the mood of a young wife remembers her husband and loves her kid making a strong impression or the young wife looks at the picture of her husband being a dead soldier and touches the child in his womb who is about to give birth without knowing his father’s face.

Beside vision perspectives, Pham Luc’s paintings impressed me by the contents with clear themes. That was the parallel of romantic emotions, burning desires for peace and freedom, and war memories. 

Along with the war topics, Pham Luc made the mark of pictures close to countryside landscapes, mountainous areas, motherhood and daily routines of soldiers and people in Northern Vietnam (Bac Viet). 

Pham Luc’s paintings present somethings strength, generous and improvisation that you can easily see from Vietnamese soldiers. When drawing, Pham Luc catches the emotions with direct and non-trimmed sketching. The viewers can feel intense emotions in each picture. 

There are about 100 paintings, many of which are created within the year 1965 – 1975 and exhibited on Heritage Cruises. 

Based on the passion, Heritage Cruises connects closely with the artist – Pham Luc from the tourism styles, decorations, cuisines, wines, service arts to music and art as well. All those things represent for Vietnam – the country has an abundance of values in terms of histories, cultures, natures, heritages, and cuisines. That absolutely creates the moments of truth delighting the guests.