Romance au clair de lune, 1943
Ink and color on silk, signed and dated lower right
55 x 46.4 cm - 21 5/8 x 18 1/4 in.
« Music is the language of emotions » wrote Immanuel Kant. Mai Trung Thứ, a Vietnamese artist, shares this sensitivity for music with the Prussian philosopher. He discovered traditional music during his transfer to Hué as a high school art teacher. His stay in the imperial capital heart allowed him to frequent musicians and to practice the độc huyền, -traditional stringed instrument- and the transverse flute. This passion for music will never leave him, since upon his arrival in France he continues to play and participates in concerts especially for radio or television programs. If painting remains his main activity, it is carried out in music. The choice of his themes is marked and female musicians are regularly represented. Romance au clair de lune is distinguished by the representation of a couple. The young man plays the flute beside a pensive young woman, mysteriously holding a letter in her hand. This scene’s romanticism is reinforced by the moonlight that gently illuminates the characters. In the distance, the Vietnamese countryside rises up. The bamboo leaves and the hilly land reinforce the sweetness of this moment while emphasizing the beauty of the Vietnamese landscape.
References to Mai Trung Thứ’s native land are also evoked through the traditional outfits worn by the couple. Although made in 1943, the year in which the artist settled permanently in his apartment on Rue du Parc in Vanves, his Asian roots are reflected in this work. The use of silk but also the treatment of faces responding to the Asian canons allow the artist to express his personality. A graduate of the first class of the Hanoi School of Fine Arts, he is the one who has been able to preserve his singularity the most.