Painter Expresses Bold Emotions
While cruising on Nha Trang Bay, Nicolas Albernhe, the owner of The Rooftop Lounge Nha Trang, and a fan of artist Pham Luc, gazed attentively at the artist’s signature oil painting. The piece, which was painted on rice sacs, depicts a lady holding flowers, and was hanging on board the Emperor Cruises boat.
“The paintings are very strong and impressive. I see the power of life through these works of art, especially those which feature human beings,” said Nicolas. “I prefer the large ones but my house is small so this painting will fit perfectly The colours are very joyous. I like the lotus, as it is the flower of Vietnam. And it’s very nice to have something Vietnamese inside my house.” “Free, broad, solid, inspiring and humane: that’s how I would describe Pham Luc’s strokes. He opposes any restrictions, instead painting the beauty he perceives. Through his paintings, we can read his feelings and soul. He leads viewers into these flows of emotion.”
A book that compares Pham Luc to Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh is dedicated to work. Some of his older paintings have sold for over $400,000, and his painting style is admired by a Harvard professor, numerous ambassadors in Hanoi, high-ranking Vietnamese officials and art collectors from around the world. He has a collectors’ club with over a hundred passionate members in Hanoi, and his painting is heavily influenced by both French and Vietnamese culture. Pham Luc can de described as a bridge linking the 20th and 21st centuries. To appreciate this accomplished and yet humble master is to understand a part of Vietnamese culture, history, heritage, progress and daily life.
A fighter and painter, Pham Luc was born in 1943, in the central city of Hue. A descendant of the famous poet, Nguyen Du, he graduated from the University of Fine Arts, Ha Noi, in 1977, he then became a member of the Vietnamese Fine Arts Association. His work takes a realistic approach to subjects like The Motherland, love, family and war, and his paintings have travelled across continents to galleries in the US, France, Australia, Japan, Germany and Russia.
“Each of his pieces is unique, full of love, hope and meaning, telling stories with his distinctive style. His art helps viewers to easily understand Vietnamese culture through his visual language, his artistic expression, so that you can easily appreciate the aesthetic value of his ideas. Built with passion, Emperor Cruises is proudly affiliated with the master Pham Luc because travel, cruising, food, wine, hospitality, music and art help to represent our rich Vietnamese history, culture, nature, heritage and cuisine. This in turn helps to create memories for the most sophisticated travelers”, explained Pham Ha, Co-founder of Emperor Cruises Nha Trang, and an avid art collector.
Perfectly matched and related by the inspired story of Emperor Bao Dai, the last Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam, and his lavish lifestyle in the 1930s, Pham Luc’s art reflects the marriage of “East meets West”. Some 50 of his paintings that are on display, and detail Vietnamese people’s loves, landscapes and lives across different eras on board Emperor Cruises, both in Nha Trang Bay and Halong Bay.
Luc said, “Discover Vietnamese culture through an original idea to have these boats exhibiting my artworks for the enjoyment of people like you. I love that this boat is inspired by the lavish and inspirational life of Emperor Bao Dai. I admire that this is a unique idea in Vietnam to have my artwork displayed on a cruise boat, and I support my friend and collector Pham Ha for making it happen, so you can see my paintings in his collection on board.”
“I have had many exhibitions around the world, but very much enjoy the originality of having my work shown on boats in some of the world’s most beautiful bays, such as Ha Long Bay and Nha Trang. It is the first time this unique idea has been developed by Pham Ha, and I am happy to have my paintings shown on board five-star Emperor Cruises, exclusively for in-house guests, in such wonderful natural settings.”
“Family and war are the themes I adore most. Through these, I can depict the real beauty of life,” Luc added. “When you look at such paintings, I don’t want to present life as too difficult or sad, so I add some strokes of bright colour in the background to show that life is always full of hope and love.”
Using materials from oils to pastels, the artist creates layers of emotion. ‘Flame from Heart’ depicts the sentimental attachment amongst soldiers in wartime; ‘Simple Happiness’ presents the return of a fisherman to his wife and son after a long day at sea, ‘Dream’ illustrates two beggars dreaming of a better life, while ‘Where I Was Born’ reminds viewers of their birthplace, with clumps of bamboo, ponds and a traditional communal house.
Thomas J. Vallely, a Havard professor, gave his thoughts about the work of Pham Luc, in a recent interview with the writer Nguyen Ngoc. “For me, my favorite place to visit in Vietnam is, the simple studio house of the painter Pham Luc. Whenever I visit, and talk to him about his art, I learn something new about Vietnam’s past and present. His work is so rich in culture, history and heritage, and is displayed through varied and diversified themes, a common language that presents the wartime years, and the sorrow that it brought to Vietnam.
We can understand more about war, and the sacrifices and sadness that Vietnamese men and women endured during this difficult period in the country’s history. Today, his work has evolved, and the themes express the deterioration of the environment, the pursuit of wealth and the abuse of power. These themes are not just representative of Vietnam, but are universal in meaning, and this creates sincere value in his artistic creations.
Pham Luc’s paintings are on display on Emperor Cruises Nha Trang and Halong Bay. For more information. visit www.emperorcruises.com