Designer Trinh Thu Trang: Stimulating a revival of public interest in Hang Trong folk painting

Update: 08:52 | 14/06/2018

Inspired from her passion for Hang Trong folk painting, designer Trinh Thu Trang established S-River, a group of youngsters who share a common interest in ancient Vietnamese culture, and launched ‘Hoa Sac Viet’ Vietnamese Colours and Patterns) project with the aim of stimulating a revival of public interest in the old traditional folk genre.

 

Designer Trinh Thu Trang, revival of public interest, Hang Trong folk painting, S-River, common interest, ancient Vietnamese culture, well-known painting, traditional folk genre

 

Designer Trinh Thu Trang standing next to Hang Trong folk paintings (Photo: giaoducthoidai.vn).

Why did you choose Hang Trong folk painting as the major background for your first project?

Designer Trinh Thu Trang: I was born and raised in Hanoi, the thousands-of-years-old capital city with a rich culture. I am upset to witness the gradual disappearance of many traditional cultural values of the capital city.

My very first memory on Hang Trong folk painting was a calendar at my grandfather’s house, which featured the ‘Ca Chep Trong Trang’ (A Carp Beholding the Moon), a well-known painting in the Hang Trong folk painting genre. The iconic folk painting of Hanoians in the past was also mentioned by my teachers when I was an elementary student.

A few years ago, when I hosted an exhibition on the traditional Tet (lunar New Year) celebration of Hanoians in the past, I had an opportunity to meet with Le Dinh Nghien, the last Hang Trong folk painter, who helped me gain a deeper research into and understanding on the treasured value of the folk genre.

Designer Trinh Thu Trang, revival of public interest, Hang Trong folk painting, S-River, common interest, ancient Vietnamese culture, well-known painting, traditional folk genre
Utilising the principal colors of blue, pink, red, orange, yellow, black and green, Hang Trong folk painting artisans created bright and colorful but elegant artworks.

However, I am concerned that the treasured folk painting style is now on the brink of oblivion. Thus, I started saving my money to collect Hang Trong folk paintings, with 67 paintings being added to my collection so far.

I have also called on friends and collective to support the revival of the genre; however, the results were not as I expected. Therefore, I thought of a more effective way to make Hang Trong folk painting thrive again.

In January last year, you organized an exhibition titled ‘Nhung Dieu Xua Cu Moi Me’ (The New Classics), showcasing Hang Trong folk paintings. Can you share us about the exhibition?

Designer Trinh Thu Trang, revival of public interest, Hang Trong folk painting, S-River, common interest, ancient Vietnamese culture, well-known painting, traditional folk genre
After years of collecting a number of Hang Trong folk paintings, I hosted two small exhibitions to introduce the public to the unique genre.

I invited cultural researcher Phan Ngoc Khue and artisan Le Dinh Nghien to talk to visitors about the aesthetic features and the process of making the paintings. We also invited children to try their hands at making a Hang Trong painting.

It was heartening that half of the visitors to my exhibition were young people aged between 18 and 24.

Can you share with us about your ‘Vietnamese Colours and Patterns’ project?

Designer Trinh Thu Trang, revival of public interest, Hang Trong folk painting, S-River, common interest, ancient Vietnamese culture, well-known painting, traditional folk genre
The more I did my research into Hang Trong folk painting, I realized the huge potential of applying the painting’s patterns and colors to life, ranging from fashion and packaging design to home interiors.

This motivated me to establish S-River in 2017, a group of youngsters who share a common interest in ancient Vietnamese culture and launched ‘Hoa Sac Viet’ (Vietnamese Colours and Patterns) project.

We select the typical colors and patterns seen in Hang Trong folk paintings and then arrange and digitalize them in order to apply them in our designs and products, such as shoes, notebook covers, gift wrapping papers, and cake boxes.

We also released a book to introduce designers to the patterns and colors of Hang Trong folk painting.

It is a complaint that young people nowadays seem to turn their back away from traditional culture. What do you think about this?

Designer Trinh Thu Trang, revival of public interest, Hang Trong folk painting, S-River, common interest, ancient Vietnamese culture, well-known painting, traditional folk genre
I don’t think so. From my working experience, I think that youngsters are willing to learn and promote their traditional culture if the most favorable conditions are created to get access to and be thoroughly introduced to it.

From my point of view, culture can be seen as a water flow and each of us is a water drop. When drops are gathered together in the same direction, we create a water flow. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Thank you so much for your sharing!

Source: NDO

 
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