Le Thanh Son
Le Thanh Son was born in Hanoi in 1962 and graduated from the Hanoi College of Drama and Cinematography in 1986. Early on is his career before dedicating his life to painting, he worked as a set designer for movies, creating dimensionality and depth in his sets. As he embraced becoming a full-time artist, he was heavily influenced by Bui Xuan Phai, one of Vietnam’s most famous historical artists. His years of working in the Hanoi Film Studio are revealed to this day in the way he contrasts light and shadow and uses brilliant colors to portray natural beauty as seen in his mind’s eye.
Of the artists of the “Doi Moi” artistic freedom generation, Le Thanh Son is perhaps the most deeply influenced by French Impressionism and from the very beginning of his artistic career he brought originality and a Vietnamese sensibility to the French techniques.
Son clearly takes pleasure in painting the beauty of his country, both the people and the land, depicting daily lives and the surrounding country through every season. He is especially well regarded for his creative genius related to painting detailed scenes lit by sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees, while still maintaining the mildly dreamlike aspects of impressionism to bring out the beauty, as opposed to reality.
Son’s emotion, passion and soul are revealed in his landscapes. “I enjoy reflecting on ordinary scenes from my everyday life (both past and present) and want to share their magic with others. Every scene, whether it’s a village bathed in the late afternoon sun, the corner of a duckweed pond with the water and sky fusing into one in the distance, the morning fog over a pagoda gate, a flower field in spring or an old Hanoi street in the shade of verdant foliage changing colors with the seasons, is a visual feast that delights me.” For Son, painting is a way to play with colours, to express his personal emotions and to satisfy his creative thirst. Nothing makes him happier than turning plain scenes of everyday life into extraordinary pictures of enthralling beauty.
Le Thanh Son is constantly in motion when painting – working both close to the canvas as well as stepping back to change his perspective. Like many contemporary Vietnamese oil painters, he uses strong brushstrokes to bring texture and multi-dimensionality to his works, and is skilled at utilizing the shadows cast by the paint itself to bring more life to his art, inviting his viewers to explore his paintings from multiple angles, and allowing viewers to discover something new each time they revisit his work.
Le Thanh Son has often been called the father of Vietnamese impressionism and his work has had a major influence on many other Vietnamese artists. Son has received numerous honors and awards over the last 40 years of his career and his paintings are held in public and private collections worldwide, including that of the British Royal family, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill and Melinda Gates.
To Le Thanh Son, a painting is not a creation of the hand but of the mind. “I am not trying to deal with anything great … only simple beauty” “I appreciate the masters who have come before me, but my painting is based on my own experience and personal vision”. “I am painting for my legacy and every brush stroke counts.”