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Mural village trend in Hanoi: artwork or disaster?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 15:38 GMT+7
Mural village trend in Hanoi: artwork or disaster?
A mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

While more and more murals have appeared on walls across Hanoi’s many streets and alleys, the community and art insiders have expressed concern over the trend, warning that there is only a thin line between an artwork and a disaster.

It all started when the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural, or Hanoi Ceramic Road, was first introduced along the walls of the Hong (Red) River dyke system in the Vietnamese capital in 2010.

Ever since, more and more streets and walls in Hanoi have been decorated with murals.

The wall paintings can feature anything, from flowers and plants, animals, to landscapes and messages calling for environmental protection or birth control. Some simply feature lines of a popular poem.

They can be seen in small alleyways in residential areas, for example, Alley 78 on Duy Tan Street, Alley 136 on Ho Tung Mau Street, the public space near Lang Pagoda, Alley 68 on Yen Phu Street, or on the wall of Phu Thuong High School in Tay Ho District.

The mural trend has even spread to rural villages surrounding the heart of Hanoi, such as Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District.

However, painters, architects, administrators and members of the public have begun to worry about these colorful walls.

A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Concerns

According to painter Nguyen Ba Kien, murals in just a few places in Hanoi are graded as beautiful, while those in other venues look unsightly.

Even wall paintings by artists are unlikely to be immune to criticism from the community, with the latest instance being the murals painted on the walls along Phan Dinh Phung Street in Ba Dinh District.

Done by professional painters at the request of Phan Dinh Phung High School, these frescoes have the idea of redrawing Hanoi from ancient to modern times.

However, the project would only displease the lovers of this beautiful old street. 

A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Writer Pham Ngoc Tien, who wrote many works about Hanoi, analyzed that the wall is not far from the Northern Gate of the Hanoi Old Citadel, an ancient vestige that needs to be only surrounded by an airy space reflecting the ‘colors of time.’ 

“Redecorating it with a modern color palette [of the murals] is not in line with the elegant, calm beauty of the street,” Tien said.

A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

According to artist Tran Khanh Chuong, chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association and chairman of the Hanoi Street Decoration Council, the recent flourishing of murals has inevitably led many to think that in the Vietnamese capital, “where there are walls, there are murals.”

“Most of these wall paintings bear no specific content or ideas as the creators appear to have randomly drawn them the way they want,” Chuong said.

A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Visual artist Nguyen The Son, who has just returned from a mural art festival in the U.S, said that he finds the fresco paintings in Vietnam are far from what he enjoyed at the American event as they are not really what murals are supposed to be.

A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Motorbikes are parked along a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Artist Nguyen Duc Binh said that the murals in several places in Hanoi were spontaneously made without professional people involved. 

He worries that if this trend continues, the threat of “visual pollution” and “pulling back the esthetic tastes of the community” can be inevitable.

A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Echoing Binh’s opinion, Chuong said mural projects must be done with care, clear planning and strict management.

As Hanoi is developing at a fast pace, with many crowded places and narrow streets, what and where to draw murals should be taken into account in order to make the city more dazzling.

Therefore, the participation of people with expertise and managers to control the content of not only large mural projects but also the small fresco paintings in the streets and villages should be emphasized, To Van Dong, director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports, suggested.

Tourists take photos next to a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Tourists take photos next to a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Tourists take photos next to a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Tourists take photos next to a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A couple pose for their wedding photos next to amural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A couple pose for their wedding photos next to a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Ao Dai Lane, Duc Thang Ward, Bac Tu Liem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Ao Dai Lane, Duc Thang Ward, Bac Tu Liem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Ao Dai Lane, Duc Thang Ward, Bac Tu Liem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Ao Dai Lane, Duc Thang Ward, Bac Tu Liem District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phan Dinh Phung Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Phan Dinh Phung Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A couple of parents walk their baby along a mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Parents walk their baby along a mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A young girl poses for a photo along the mural wall in Phan Dinh Phung Street in Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A young girl poses for a photo along a mural wall on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A man sits next to a mural wall in Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A man sits next to a mural wall on Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A mural wall in Dong Khe Hamlet of Dan Phuong Village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi is seen in this photo. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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Bao Anh / Tuoi Tre News

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