The book includes 189 sketches by the painter, who took note of war scenes from 1965 to 1973 in Truong Son trail, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Central Highlands battlefields.
Le Trong Lan, Chairman of the Art Council for Paintings, the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, remarked that these paintings reflect an unforgettable period of time.
“It seems that I can meet in person again the old men at Ham Rong Bridge, militia girls, mothers of the Van Kieu ethnic group, and myself in a tough but beautiful afternoon in Truong Son range with a burnt trail and bomb craters,” he said.
“These war scenes were beautifully sketched with gentle light colours, yet still revealed a very strong sentiment and vibration in the soul of this talented painter.
He simply depicted life exactly as it was.”
Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition, said Oanh is among the greatest painters of the war and an important contributor to Vietnam’s art scene.
“One of the most impressive paintings by Oanh is Ham Rong Bridge,” said Thanh.
“It seemed painter Oanh naturally has a sense of his generation’s duty: living and painting the wartime, in all of its aspects.”
Oanh said he stayed near Ham Rong Bridge for one month to paint workers and young volunteers fixing the bridge and railroads with the determination not to let the US bombs destroy the bridge and block the road.
“From that day to many years later, I completed a lacquer painting called Ham Rong Bridge, which received the top prize in the annual National Fine Arts Exhibition in 1976,” Oanh said.
Luong Xuan Doan, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Fine Arts, said Oanh’s sketches then – now historical paintings in the archives - became fossils out of the lava of war, where generations of Vietnamese came to the front, lived their lives and died. But their souls seem to surround us still, with the streams, mountains and trees.
“These memories do not only belong to the painter himself but also to the next generations as ever-burning flames, an invaluable treasure of Vietnam,” he said.
Oanh was born in 1937. He is known for his great devotion to Vietnamese fine arts as a painter who travelled to many battlefields to document the wartime. He is also a lecturer who has taught many famous painters of Vietnam during 15 years working at the Vietnam University of Fine Arts.