A recipient of the Order of the British Empire who initiated a notable collection dedicated to Vietnam’s propaganda paintings is showcasing several of his prized collectibles at an ongoing exhibit in Hanoi.
The exhibition, titled “Mot Khi The Cach Mang” (The Revolutionary Spirit), is taking place until next Monday at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, at 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh District.
On view at the event are around seventy 2.1x1.2m propaganda paintings from the 1950s to the early 1980s, or from the war in Vietnam to the peacetime period.
Propaganda paintings typically depict images of military leaders, soldiers and people and messages intended to spur the fighting spirit.
The man behind the exhibition is Dominic Scriven, a co-founder of Dragon Capital, which is an integrated investment group centered around the emerging financial markets of Vietnam.
Scriven has lived in Vietnam for the past 13 years and speaks impeccable Vietnamese.
The ongoing exhibit also debuts 33 rare stamps which he bought from an auction organized in the U.K. more than two years ago.
The stamps mostly feature printed Vietnamese propaganda paintings.
A highlight is a stamp which boasts the portrait of late President Ho Chi Minh in bamboo paper and is being publicly displayed in Vietnam for the first time.
According to Dragon Capital’s website, Scriven moved to Vietnam in 1991, spending two years at Hanoi General University, before co-founding the group in 1994.
Scriven, who resides in Ho Chi Minh City, is a director of a number of publicly listed companies, and an active advocate for financial market development.
He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2006, and received the Third-Grade Labor Order from Vietnam last year.
“Hanoi was lacking in advertising posters and signboards back then. Instead, propaganda paintings were pervasive and left a lasting impression on me. I then began my quest to collect original propaganda paintings,” Scriven said.
He added he is also intrigued by propaganda paintings from Russia, China and East European countries, but remains infatuated with those created by Vietnamese artists, as he found they are most typical of propaganda features and rich in aesthetic and artistic values as well.
He has collected over 1,000 Vietnamese propaganda paintings so far.
Veteran artist Luong Xuan Doan, vice chair of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, highly regards Scriven’s collection, which strives to retain and treasure the fading genre.
“The brush strokes and messages of the propaganda paintings are of huge historical significance. They were created in dire conditions, and I think today’s artists can hardly create such paintings in similar conditions,” Doan noted.
Scriven also founded Dogma Collection 10 years ago, which he considers a great effort to incorporate into the Vietnamese art arena.
After founding the Dogma Collection, he met Italian artist Richard di San Marzano, who has since accompanied him in developing the collection.
In 2011, Scriven began giving away his annual Dogma Prize in Self-Portraiture, which is aimed at inspiring local artists to improve the art of creating self-portraits as well as to encourage young talents over the age of 18.
The 2013 awards included the Dogma Prize worth VND120 million (US$5,660) and three special prizes worth VND20 million each.