In an art museum of the village
Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Nho, Head of the Co Do village, a member of the Board of Directors of Co Do Fine Arts Club, showed his pride in the village, especially geographical location. Not far from his beloved old village is Trung Ha wharf where the Da and Red rivers confluence. Co Do was first named An Do, later changed to An Bang in Son Tay Town. The ancient Co Do village is not only famous for silk weaving which used to be a product sent to the king and vermicelli making but also for its studious tradition and art love. But it is also special because most people in the village are farmers.
Art love is inherited passing down in families in the village for generations, Co Do village has nurtured many scholars, poets and especially painters. Some people are well-educated and famous like painter Sy Tot whose family has its own art museum in the village, now managed by his grandson.The village road is spaciously concreted, one side is bordered with colorful flowers, and the other side is a line of trees reflecting on the pond surface, leading us to Co Do village communal house (the villagers call it Chay communal house).
Being opposite to the newly restored communal house is the Ancient Fine Arts Museum, where hundreds of paintings by both professional and amateur artists are kept. Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Nho, former Chairman of Co Do Fine Arts Club, disclosed that artists have earned hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dongs from selling paintings in this museum each year not to mention the private museum of the late painter Sy Tot and nearly a dozen galleries of families in the village.
One of the most famous painters in Co Do Commune is the late painter Sy Tot. He was awarded the State Prize for Literature and Art in 2007. Many of his works are displayed at major art museums around the world. He taught drawing and inspired and nurtured a love of painting for many generations of Co Do inhabitants including many who became professional painters and members of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association. Not only the old painter Sy Tot but Giang Kich, Sy Luan, Tran Hoa, La Vuong also hail from Co Do Commune. Currently, 12 out of the members of the Fine Arts Club Co Do are members of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association.
A young artist of the village
According to Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Nho, Co Do held the first exhibition ‘ Sac mau que huong’ (Colors of the Motherland) for the first time in 1994 when the Co Do Fine Arts Museum had not been built.
Until 14 years later, the Co Do villagers' dream of having a real museum gradually became a reality in 2008. Since then, the club has held the exhibition ‘Colors of the Motherland’ six times. It is worth noting that many painters even living and working abroad still keep a close relationship with the club and regularly exchange news.
It seems that not only being passionate about drawing, Co Do inhabitants also enthusiastically teach drawing. According to Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Nho, more than two-thirds of art teachers at all levels in Ba Vi District hail from Co Do Commune. Generations of painters his father in the club have paid great attention to transmitting the love of painting to the younger generation.
From 2018 until now, the club has trained hundreds of children in the village and neighboring communes. After a 2-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 epidemic, in 2022 the club organized two drawing classes at Co Do Fine Arts Museum, each class had more than 50 students. Teacher Phung Van Duc said that every year, 300-400 students apply to study, and all of them have to pass an entrance exam. Every summer, the museum is bustling with the laughter of young artists.
These young artists have gradually grown, starting to bear fruit. Most recently, the jury of the children's painting contest with the theme ‘Ha Long mien di san’ (Ha Long - the heritage region) awarded prizes for 26 works, 17 of which are painted by Co Do children. Giang Hong Chi, an eighth grader at Co Do Secondary School who had just received the second prize at the Ha Long drawing contest, told that she has attended four free-of-charge classes at the club.
Mr. Nho recounted not only the name of the paintings but also the background of each painting, even the working process of the authors - his dear compatriots. Along with his friends in the club, he cherished many new projects including a project to expand and upgrade the museum with an expected investment of VND20 billion from now to 2025. As part of the cultural and tourism development program of Hanoi, the project will develop more drawing classrooms and exhibition and experience spaces for small artists.