Bui Huu Hung

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Bui Huu Hung was born in Vietnam’s northern capital city of Hanoi in 1957. Since the age of 18, Hung has been fascinated with lacquer. As a teenager, he traveled to small villages where the ancient Vietnamese technique of lacquer painting was still being used in an attempt to preserve the age-old art form. Following a stint of combat duty in 1978, he attended the Indochina Fine Arts University where he continued his study of traditional lacquer art. Hung has been a member of the Vietnam Artists Association since 1986 and the International Lacquer Artists Association since 1996.

Lacquer painting, unique to Vietnam, involves applying various layers of carefully chosen pigments embellished with shiny gold and silver leaf and white crushed duck eggshells onto multiple layers of translucent lacquer. This renders complex paintings with dramatic lustre and a captivating three dimensional effect.

Bui Huu Hung rejuvenates this ancient art of Lacquer painting with a distinctively original approach. His paintings are grand in setting but intimate in likeness. His central theme is regal women, adorned in richly decorated colourful gowns with their eyes set forward, as if sizing up and contemplating. Their expressions are delicate and reveal a range of emotions, from confidence to languor.

Ornamental designs fill the background and his choice of colour and design influences the personality of the paintings, adding depth and heightening the colour contrast. His figures exist in an illusory space, unanchored by earth and sky. The addition of rich gold leaf creates beautiful nuances of light that shines through the lacquer. Through his work, he bestows upon the women an almost mystical grace.

Hung’s works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. His works are in the permanent collections of the Orient Museum of Russia, the Singapore Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum in Melbourne.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, Bui Huu Hung’s nostalgic paintings tell a hundred stories.”  – Heritage Magazine, August 1998