For a long while, I’ve been contemplating in silence the pictures “Hanoi Old Streets” by Thế Duy. They are altogether nostalgic for antiquity and, as such, have lively revived the image of the ancient capital Đông Đô - Thăng Long before my eyes. The old customs and manners of Tràng An metropolitan soil are aptfully, cautiously and concisely depicted by Thế Duy: they are imbued with the civilization concepts of the ancient capital, the birthplace of our people.

   Thế Duy has an artistic style of his own, alien to the method of any other artist dealing with the theme of “Hanoi Old Streets”, it may be termed the classical - surrealist style which pictures life realistically yet from a modern approach with a new outlook and a novel technique of painting. The starting point is the same as the atmosphere, the space in landscapes portrayed and created by so many generations of international artists dating from the Renaissance with the great painter Leonardo da Vinci. Thế Duy has succeeded in offering us a lifelike world in his paintings. Moreover, the clumps of trees and leaves are meticulously and painstakingly drawn to produce the veracity of things seemingly touchable but in reality they are merely illusions since reality in the paintings is viewed conventionally and in generalities. The viewer appears to go astray and be lured into a world half - real, half - imaginative due to several factors characterizing the surrealist school of painting.Thế Duy views things in a reasonable, generalized way. The picture focuses on the centre of its composition. The landscape is always enveloped by a harmonious atmosphere to engender light and rhythm. The perspective drawing is that of an Oriental artist, namely the yuanjin zouma perspective (from the top downwards) which differs from the European law of perspective (horizontal perspective), hence this artistic style is truly Asiatic .

    Through the language of painting, Thế Duy anew makes us sense the sweetness of a beautiful and much beloved Hanoi. The old customs of the Tràng An city folk, such as the popular opera  chèo, the religious chant Chầu văn, the Quan họ alternating songs, human chess, cock fighting, wrestling, swinging on a swiees, rickshaw drawing..., are lively and sophistically pictured to  give us a good impression of Hanoi at the turn of the 20th century. Thế Duy deeply moves the viewer of his paintings by his sincerity as well as a genuine love of  Hanoi  and  competent  artistic skills.

   Born in 1956, he graduated from the Hanoi College of Industrial Arts. He is a member of the Hanoi Fine Arts Association, a member of the Hanoi Music Association, the composer of  a well - known song “the First Love”, and the son of the late painter Nguyễn Thế Khang. Inheriting the family’s tradition, Thế Duy zealously proceeds on his father’s artistic way and tries to make some creative development and improvement.

   He does not confine himself to the theme of “Hanoi Old Streets”. He also goes painting in mountainous and remote areas. Scudding clouds on the Mèo Vạc mountain in peak (Hà Giang province) or Sa Pa and Tam Đảo out - of - the - way forests were all painted with pure, bright and breezy, rich in poetry and musical character. There exist “modulation”, “dolce” and “ardente” notes which mingle in unison to form a style, a specific charm, an original feature proper to him alone.

    Accordingly, art admirers have welcomed Thế Duy’s works. The vital force of our days emanating from his pictures have really resuscitated the memory of an ancient Hanoi. They also bring us peace sweetness, poetry and lyrics.

Tô Ngọc Thành artist