Vinh once worked as a designer for a cooperative on bamboo curtains for export in Phu Nhuan district, Ho Chi Minh City. One day, the cooperative’s head said that a foreign customer ordered a new product – something unique and artistic.
The requirement was so vague and challenging, that it took Vinh days of creative thinking. Then he came up with an idea of bringing the movements and colours to the natural bamboo curtains.
The bamboo for making the painting must be from the top part of the tree. The bamboo is then peeled and processed before being cut into tubes measuring 6cm tall and 3-5mm in diameters. The tubes are then dried under sunlight and strung together.
Answering question on how many bamboo tubes for a curtain, Vinh gave an example of a painting measuring 200x200 cm, which includes 326 strings of more than 10,000 bamboo tubes.
Each of Vinh’s painting is unique, not only because it has only one original, but it can also be seen on both sides.
Among art painting subjects, Vinh has special interests in painting portraits, in which he focussed the majority on the eyes, because he wants to bring “soul” to his artwork.
Among art subjects, Vinh has special interests in painting portraits (Photo: NDO/Le Nguyet Minh)
It took Vinh two years to figure out how to paint portraits on bamboo curtains, after experiencing many failures. At the beginning, he had to work two or even three times on a painting but they all ended up being failures.
“I thought I had a clear imagination and vision for the paintings, and knew exactly what to do, but when it came into action, it became more difficult,” Vinh recalled. “Many times, I thought I was so close to success, but it wasn’t perfect and I had to try it again,” he said.
He can’t remember how many times he had to retry before he successfully completed his first portrait on a bamboo curtain.
In 2002, Vinh started painting portraits of President Ho Chi Minh on his bamboo curtains. He had searched for documents and artwork, in order to make his paintings real. His efforts were rewarded as his bamboo curtain featuring Uncle Ho won the Gold Prize of the Ngoi Sao Viet Nam (Vietnam’s Star) Award at Hue Festival 2004.
Vinh’s artworks are now present at offices and museums across the country, with most of them being portraits of Uncle Ho, General Vo Nguyen Giap, President Ton Duc Thang, world leaders, celebrities, and influencers.