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Dec 16, 2020 / 17:05

A day in the life of painter Bui Xuan Phai

For the first time, photos about daily life of the Vietnamese beloved painter were showcased to art lovers soon.

In the framework of the 13th "Bui Xuan Phai - For the Love of Hanoi" Award Ceremony, held on last October, painter Tran Chinh Nghia hold an exhibition entitled “Bui Xuan Phai - One-hundred-year love with Hanoi" showcasing the photos of Bui Xuan Phai's daily life. 

In 1985, painter Bui Xuan Phai was commissioned by Hanoi Department of Culture and Information to draw the Temple of Literature for a New Year Festival celebration. He invited photographer Tran Van Luu and his son, Tran Chinh Nghia (the author of the photo series) to photograph him at the temple.

Photographer Tran Chinh Nghia is the son of painter Tran Van Luu, a good friend of painter Bui Xuan Phai's family. For a long time, photographer Tran Chinh Nghia has taken thousands of photos of Bui Xuan Phai's life and work.

The photos saved the routine but valuable moments of the renown painter, showing the daily images of the painter with sadness and joy, the beautiful relationships among artists and between people and people, revealing the soul and concern of an artistic genius.

Most of photographer Tran Chinh Nghia's photos of Bui Xuan Phai are still kept in his massive archive. Only a few of them have been introduced to the public, including the portrait of Bui Xuan Phai used as logo for the Award "Bui Xuan Phai - For the love of Hanoi" and recently also as theme of  postage stamp.

Tran Chinh Nghia often followed his father to take pictures of "Uncle Phai", thanks to which he recorded many of the painter’s daily moments, as well as his process of creation.

The photo of painter Bui Xuan Phai used as the logo of the award “Bui Xuan Phai - For the love of Hanoi ''

Most of photos at the exhibition show the preparation for the first solo exhibition of Bui Xuan Phai, held by the Fine Arts Association in 1984. These photos depicted his daily moments, one of which was when the painter was working in the communal yard of the house No.87 at Thuoc Bac street or the other of him painting in front of his own house or another of Phai resting beside his works. During this time, Tran Chinh Nghia visited "Uncle Phai" several times to take pictures of his paintings.

Author Tran Chinh Nghia said in the preparation for the 1984 exhibition, almost every week, he visited painter Bui Xuan Phai at his home to take photos of his paintings. He also confided that he took all these pictures for a very simple reason: because Bui Xuan Phai was one of the best friends of his father.

The photo captures painter Bui Xuan Phai's sad moment sitting next to his furniture, when a bomb hit this house in 1972 and destroyed many of his paintings.

The photos of author Tran Chinh Nghia shows a   painter Bui Xuan Phai’s love of Hanoi. People see an artist Bui Xuan Phai with '' One hundred years of love for Hanoi'', or “Phai Street".

In the other world, painter Bui Xuan Phai must feel happy because after more than 30 years, his “nephew” Tran Chinh Nghia still treasures all his images, telling stories about him in each photo like everything just happened yesterday.

The photo was taken by photographer Tran Chinh Nghia of painter Bui Xuan Phai in 1987 to use in his medical record. This is also Phai’s funeral picture

Every time they met, Mr. Nghia photographed painter Bui Xuan Phai . Whenever he could take pictures of a talented artist, he did not hesitate to use a bunch of rolls of film as all come from his affection and respect for him.

Born in 1920 and passing away in 1988, Phai is probably the most-respected and well-known Vietnamese artist, creating his own genre called ‘Pho Phai’, or Phai’s streets, which instantly
links the city and the man.

Such familiarity between place and artist is why Bui Xuan Phai is considered Vietnam’s most significant and most popular painter of urban spaces and during his lifetime was a recognised authority on painting the country’s capital.