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Truong Be

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Truong Be was born in 1942 in Quang Tri. Following his graduation from the Hanoi University of Fine Arts in 1974, he went on to further his studies at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary from 1983 to 1986. Upon his return to Vietnam, the government assigned Truong Be a teaching position at the Hue university. Be was made the Vice-Dean in 1988 and continued to teach until his retirement in 2002.

Shaped by an ethereal artistic philosophy, master artist Truong Be’s is regarded as one of Vietnam’s most prominent lacquer painters. Be considers the universe to be governed by immutable and mystifying laws. By extension, every human being is composed of these elements, bestowed by the beauty and energy of the infinite universe. Since abstract art is the visual embodiment of an idea, when Be’s consciousness is probed, he conveys it with an instinctive force that erupts from within and bursts out in a fit of painting.

The immense nature of Be’s lacquer masterpieces acts as a proposition, an invitation to view the painting as more than the sum of its parts. Every piece is meticulously worked on as he creates exquisite forms looming like nebulae.

The visual rhythm of his paintings exposes the mastery of the artist in his handling of a vastly unconventional medium. The technique of traditional Vietnamese lacquer painting is highly complex. The resin from the ‘son’ tree is applied in numerous layers onto a wooden panel, with each application occurring only after the previous layer has dried. Each layer is polished to reveal the colour and texture beneath. The intricacy of this task cannot be understated, as significant expertise is required to retain only the desired colours and textures without over-polishing.


During his storied career, Truong Be has held various positions, including Vice Chairman of the Visual Arts Council of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association (4th term, from 1994 to1999); member of the Executive Committee of Vietnam Fine Arts Association (for three successive terms 4th, 5th, and 6th, from 1994 to 2009), member of the Central Arts Council of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association (5th and 6th term, from 1999 to 2009).

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