Diep Minh Chau Painter and Sculptor

Diep Minh Chau (1919 – 2002) is a Vietnamese painter and sculptor making substantial contributions to Vietnam Fine Arts. He had lots of good memories with Uncle Ho when he was young. There were plenty of anecdotes relating to his life and his composing career; however, some of them were not known precisely.

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Diep Minh Chau Painter and sculptor 

Became a valedictorian but did not… graduate.

In 1939, Diep Minh Chau went to Hanoi to attend a preparatory course in Indochina Fine Arts College – one of two largest-scale schools in Asia at that time. In order to earn a living in Hanoi – an expensive city, he did all part-time jobs as he could. He designed backdrops for some opera groups in his free time.

After finishing this preparatory course, Diep Minh Chau returned to his homeland to wait for the school notification and surprisingly, he became the valedictorian of Indochina Fine Arts College in 1940.

On his arrival in Hanoi, at first Diep Minh Chau met painter To Ngoc Van – his inspired teacher in Indochina Fine Arts College. Because of his dirty hands when going along the dirt road, he was shy to give his hands as his teacher shook hands with him. However, To Ngoc Van clasped his hands tightly and said: “No! These hands deserve a shake! During my ten-year teaching career, I have never seen a better apprentice than you. I know you will be successful but I don’t tell you first, you really deserve this. ”
Despite being the valedictorian, he and his peers didn’t receive the college degree. The primary reason is that at that time, all professors in the college were put in jail in the aftermath of the Japanese coup d’état in French Indochina.

The first “blood painting” in his life.
During the early years of the French Resistance, Diep Minh Chau painted Uncle Ho’s portrait with his blood to express his admiration for the Great Father of the nation.

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Statue“Uncle Ho with Pioneers” – Diep Minh Chau

On the 2nd anniversary of the National Day, at the fair celebrating the great Independence Day festivities in Thien Ho Commune, Dong Thap Muoi war zone, after listening to the Declaration of Independence of Uncle Ho and the song “Praise President Ho Chi Minh” (Luu Huu Phuoc) sung by children, between the congenial atmosphere, a strong feeling surged into Diep Minh Chau’s soul.

Since Diep Minh Chau was so emotional, he used blood taken from his arm to paint a portrait of Uncle Ho with three small children, representing the children of the country’s northern, central and southern regions and then this blood painting was offered to President Ho Chi Minh with his letter “Respectfully to my Father”. He wrote: “Today in the great Independence Day festivities in Nam Bo, l have listened to your Declaration of Independence; your pathetic and vigorous call and the song “Long live Ho Chi Minh” performed by the children’s organisation of Nam Bo, have deeply moved me. I have cut my arm and with my blood of youth, I have drawn your portrait with three children representing Central, South, and North Vietnam, inclining their heads to your straggled beard. I have painted on the silk captured by our troops during the Giong Dua battle in April… My blood is infused by you; it comes from my people. I am not so rash to waste it; my whole body has been already entrusted to you, my Father…10:00 pm September 2nd, 1947.”

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“Uncle Ho with three small children of Central, Southern and Northern Vietnam” (painted with blood) – Diep Minh Chau

In terms of this blood painting by Diep Minh Chau, people would have a chance to admire, mainly through … newspapers. Currently, its original is kept in Vietnam Museum of Revolution. There is also another one displaying at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, but that’s the version painted by Tran Thuc.

As mentioned above, because the painting “Uncle Ho with three small children of Central, Southern and Northern Vietnam” was drawn with blood on the silk at the same time, it could not maintain the original status quo. Afterwards, painter Tran Thuc said to Sports and Culture Newspaper that when he had assumed the command to copy the blood painting, it had been wrinkled. The most enormous difficulty is to mix colors to turn them into blood. And he decided to use maroon as the main color. As the silk (of the orginal) was faded, he strived to dye the silk to make it faded as the original one. Thanks to the extreme caution, painter Diep Minh Chau exclaimed that: “This is a facsimile copy. I really like it”.

In addition to the painting “Uncle Ho with three small children of Central, Southern and Northern Vietnam”, Diep Minh Chau drew many other Uncle Ho’s portraits on the silk. The sink which he used to draw the painting “Uncle Ho by Lenin Stream” is the one that Chinese President Mao Trach Dong offered President Ho Chi Minh and then Uncle Ho gave Diep Minh Chau on his visit from Southern Vietnam to meet President Ho Chi Minh.

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Painter Diep Minh Chau and statue “President Ho Chi Minh”

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Sculptor Diep Minh Chau – Portrait of painter Dinh Quang Tinh

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Sculptor Diep Minh Chau – Portrait of painter Dinh Quang Tinh’s wife

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