On June 2, the French auction house Aguttes kicked off the ‘Asian Painters, Major Works’ art sale that included two sessions: Chinese Modern Art and Indochina In The 20th Century. Many paintings by famous Vietnamese artists from the Indochina School Of Fine Arts were featured during the event.
Art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi stated that the works had a clear origin and history. Women, according to him, are an eternal source of inspiration for artists as well as a favorite subject for collectors. As a result, paintings of women frequently fetch high prices.
The painting ‘En Plein Air’ (rough translation ‘Outdoor’) was sold for 794,720 euro (around $836,000), the highest bid of both sessions. Painter Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) created this ink and color on silk work in the early 1940s. The work depicts two women wearing ao dai sitting on the grass with one looking up at the sky, the other attentively reading a book. The artist embellished some typical items of Vietnam, such as cushions and a wooden box for storing objects.
The auction house wrote: “With their hair delicately pulled up in buns and their lips covered in red makeup, these two women are exquisitely elegant and refined.”
It also noted that during his training, Mai Trung Thu learnt a particular technique halfway between Asian tradition and European taste: painting on silk.
“The alum allows the conservation of the painting and, moreover, makes the surface of the silk smooth, thus facilitating the work of the artist.”
The ‘Romance Au Clair De Lune’ (rough translation ‘Romance Under The Moonlight’) fetched 514,000 euro. The ink and color on silk painting depicts a man and woman sitting under the moon. The girl is wearing an ao dai, a headdress and holding a letter in her hand while the boy sitting behind plays the flute.
Vietnam’s countryside landscape is captured with a river, hill and bamboo trees.
“Although created in 1943, the year in which Mai Trung Thu settled permanently in his apartment on Rue du Parc in Vanves, his Asian roots are reflected in this work,” the auction house wrote.
Furthermore, the work demonstrates his passion for music, especially for the transverse flute.
The ‘Jeune Dille A La Tasse De The’ (rough translation ‘Young Girl With A Cup Of Tea’) went under the hammer for 130,000 euro.
The 28×17-centimeter painting was created around 1955 and signed lower left.
According to Aguttes, Le Pho (1907-2001) maintained his love for “graceful feminine subjects” when incorporating floral composition and an almost abstract background.
The work is like a prophecy about the artist’s future transition to the use of bright oil colors and the abandonment of silk in favor of canvas.
The back of the painting is imprinted with a label of the Romanet gallery testifies to the support and interest that Pho received from the French artistic sphere starting in 1942.
‘Jeune Fille Au Treillage De Betel’ (rough translation ‘Young Girl On The Betel Fence’) is a work showing Pho’s talent with ink and color painting techniques on silk. The artist depicts the image of a girl leaning against a bamboo fence, where betel ropes are climbing. According to the auction house, the young woman in this painting converges with standard Asian beauty: oval face, almond-shaped eyes and small mouth. The 30×24-centimeter ink and color silk painting was sold for 361,000 euro, more than three times the original estimated price.
‘Maternité Et Cavalier’ (rough translation ‘A Mother, A Son And A Knight’) is an oil on canvas by Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) that was purchased for 110,000 euro.
The auction house stated that the 73.5×60.5-centimeter painting was created in 1989 and reflects Dam’s personal artistic style with a modernist spirit.
“The soft brushstrokes and color tones also delineate depth,” it wrote. “The blue-dominated palette is recurrent in the artist’s work.”
Mothers and children are also inseparable from his paintings, it added.
The work ‘Divinite’ (Divine), painted by Dam in 1992, was sold for 104,000 euro. With the dominant red background, the artist depicts a woman wearing a yellow robe sitting in the posture of reciting Buddha’s name, surrounded by white lotuses.
The work ‘La Cueillette Du The’ (rough translation ‘Picking Tea’), signed by Le Thi Luu (1911-1988) on the bottom right, earned 437,000 euro.
The artist depicts an ethnic woman in traditional costume. Behind are three other people doing the same job. In the introduction to the work, the auction house said that with traditional silk material, Luu used blue, green, white and pink powder, with gentle touches, lending softness and unique touch to the painting. According to the auction house, far from the usual image of a noble and luxurious young woman, Luu honors hard-working women through her works.
Tran Dac’s painting ‘Femmes Cueillant Des Fleurs’ (rough translation ‘Women Picking Flowers’) was sold for 5,200 euro. The painting is of 62.7×38.7centimeters, signed and stamped on the bottom right.
Dac (1922-1980) used ink and color on silk, depicting two women in ao dai picking flowers, behind are bamboo bushes. The yellow-brown tone creates a warm tone for the artwork and exudes an old-fashioned feeling.