Lot 015

b. Vietnam, 1921 - d, 1988


Signed and dated 'Phai 84' (upper left)
Oil on canvas
30cm x 40cm

Private Collection, Indonesia; acquired from artist’s family.

Accompanied with certificate from artist’s family.

ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 25,000


Cheo is a form of popular theatre in Vietnam that has its roots in ancient village festivals. Comprising of folk songs with pantomime, instrumental music and dances, the traditional performance also includes instructive or interpretive sketches telling stories of legends, poetry, history and daily life. Bui Xuan Phai celebrates Vietnamese culture by illustrating three female Cheo performers backstage, one of whom is in the act of applying make up while the other two stand waiting in the background. Rendered in Phai’s representational style, Opera Cheo is expressed in a minimal palette of bold red, black and white.

Bui Xuan Phai was enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts d’Indochine, Hanoi in 1941 and graduated from the resistance school when it was moved to Viet Bac in 1945. He opened a studio in his parents’ house in Hanoi in 1952 where he sketched portraits of his family, still-lifes and the streets of Hanoi instead of producing Propaganda Art, which was meant for national cause at the time. His depictions of Hanoi reflect the spirit and freedom of the people. A celebrated Vietnamese artist, Phai experimented with different materials such as canvas, paper, cardboard, wooden plates and newsprint. He also used various mediums like oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal and crayon. Phai’s first solo exhibition was held in 1984 where 108 of his works were displayed. He was posthumously awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize by the government of Vietnam for his contribution to national culture in 1996.

Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art, Nora Annesley Taylor, University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
Vietnamese Painting From Tradition to Modernity, Les Editions d’Art et d’Histoire, ARHIS, 2003.