Jeunes travailleuses, 1974
Ink and color on silk, signed and dated upper left, titlled and dated on the back
25 5/8 x 10 5/8 in.
The artist is very politically committed, and focuses on representing Vietnamese workers. Affected by the years of war and the many orphans, Mai Trung Thứ collaborated with UNICEF by participating in the “Aid to Unfortunate Children” campaign between 1960 and 1965. Making children one of his main subjects, he was supported by gallery owner Jean-François Apesteguy who offered him an exhibition at the Péristyle Gallery in Paris, named Les enfants de Mai Thu in 1963. His talent for capturing the innocence and candor of children was noticed and appreciated by the public. This ink on silk depicts two young working girls in 1974, at the end of the Vietnam war. The two young girls wear a hat of latanier leaves, the nón tơi, typical in Vietnam. They both hold it in their hands while posing for the artist. Their traditional clothing is of great simplicity and is held in place by colored belts, which can be seen sticking out of their tunics. Colors of the outfit of the two children contrast with the checkered scarf. Mai Trung Thứ sought to produce a complete work, also passing through the making of an original and unique frame, rigorously adapted to each painting. The homage to Vietnamese culture is also made through the choice of medium, made of ink and gouache on silk. Mai Trung Thứ excels in this typically Far Eastern technique. Discovered during his apprenticeship at the Indochina School of Fine Arts, he has never stopped using it, proudly displaying his eternal love for Vietnam.