Livestock through the eyes of artists

Livestock through the eyes of artists incorporates two art perspectives: one from the past and the other from the present day. The old includes representations from popular folk print genres like Dong Ho and Hang Trong. The modern comprises typical artwork using a wide range of media, such as oil on canvas, silk, watercolours and woodcut.

Buffaloes, cows, pigs and chickens are the most common and cherished animals in rural and mountainous areas, both in wealthy and poor families. Gradually people have developed an intimate relationship with them and found key sources of inspiration from them to create various works of art and literature and many folk prints.

Dong Ho is a classical folklore genre introduced in this exhibition. It has a unique sparkling white background of Do paper made with seashell powder paste. In these prints, the chicken is a representation not only of wealth and prosperity but also of courage, as in the image of the rooster standing straight crowing to signal the break of a new day. Another meaningful detail lies in the yin-yang vortex on the pigs, which embodies fertility. Talented craftsmen from Dong Ho and Kim Hoang villages, as well as Hang Trong in the Old Quarter, were excellent at turning these simple and familiar animals into expressive symbols in various folk prints.

Continuing this tradition, Vietnamese modern artists, after experiencing many Western styles of art, still explore and preserve the simple beauty of our nation in their work, the beauty in every aspect of life including labour and livestock production.

In this exhibition, Phan The Cuong, To Chiem, Ha Tri Dung and Tran Khanh Chuong are typical modern artists with diverse art styles. Their artwork reflects not only the role of livestock in livelihoods but also the close relationship between them and the people. Later, after the Renovation period (Doi Moi), the artwork by Le Anh Van and Ha Tri Hieu shows significant change, with notably stylised art. In line with this, a number of sculptures, including ones from sustainable media such as stone, are also included. These are the creations of sculptors Nguyen Phu Cuong and Tran Thiet.

The Livestock through the eyes of artists exhibition introduces 52 pieces of art from the collection of the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum comprising both folk and modern works, which are categorised into six sections: (1) Livestock genetics; (2) Animal health; (3) Feeds and forages; (4) Livestock and the environment; (5) Livestock and livelihoods; and (6) Livestock and culture. We hope this exhibition will contribute to the public’s diverse perspective on livestock, thus raising the awareness of the roles of livestock and promoting the sustainable development of our national livestock production.