|Nguyen Hoang Anh introduces paintings using the Hoa Kim Sa technique. (Photo: congluan.vn)
Born in 1996 in Hanoi, Nguyen Hoang Anh developed a great passion for fine arts at very young age. She graduated from the Graphic Design Department of the Industrial Fine Arts University in Hanoi.
In 2017, Hoang Anh became captivated by the art of “Phap lam” – a technique involving enamel painting and carving on metal, which was invented in the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945) and lasted for 60 years before it faded from popularity.
Hoang Anh discovered that the original “Phap lam” technique is extremely complex, involving seven main stages and 108 subsidiary steps. Hoping to revive this nearly lost art technique, Hoang Anh spent 3 years experimenting with ways to simplify it. The result was a streamlined “Hoa kim sa” technique, which involves three main stages: bending copper threads, applying enamel dots, and applying the final glaze.
Hoang Anh says this streamlined technique doesn't compromise the aesthetic appeal. It just makes the production easier.
“My research revealed that the original technique came from Europe. After it was introduced to Vietnam it was called ‘Phap lam’. Experts advised me to use the name ‘Hoa kim sa.’ ‘Hoa’ means painting, "kim" means metal, the base material used, and ‘sa’ denotes the colored sand that imparts distinctiveness to the piece,” said Hoang Anh.
In 2020, Hoang Anh founded the Hoa Gam group of fellow artists. The group opened a workshop where they use the "Hoa kim sa" technique to produce pictures and decorative souvenir products, and combine it with other materials such as wood and plastic to create phone cases, post cards, calendars, fans, and bags. Their products soon became popular among young Vietnamese.
Last March the Hoa Gam group introduced a “Hoa kim sa” version of the “Ngu Ho” (Five Tigers) artwork from the Hang Trong folk painting genre. 10 members created the painting in 300 hours, respecting the majesty, dignity, and vividness of the original painting.
|The exhibition "Vietnamese spiritual painting" at the Vietnamese Women's Museum in November, 2023. (Photo: congluan.vn)
The work is the first of a "Vietnamese spiritual painting" project pursued by Hoang Anh and the Hoa Gam group, which aims to express the spiritual beauty of Vietnamese people through 4 famous folk paintings from Hang Trong, Dong Ho, Kim Hoang and Sinh village using the “Hoa kim sa” technique.
“I really admire Hoang Anh. She is a daring person who follows her own path. She has revived an art form which was nearly lost. ‘Hoa kim sa’ is an experimental art form that retains some traditional features,” Nguyen Ngoc Quynh Anh, who is in charge of customer service for the Hoa Gam group, said.
The Hoa Gam group has organized discussions and workshops to help young artists learn this art form.
“I studied ‘Hoa kim sa’ and it has unleashed my creativity,” said Luu Bao Chau of Hanoi.
Nguyen Hoang Anh has also introduced “Hoa kim sa” technique to young people in Ho Chi Minh City.
“The ‘Hoa kim sa’ technique is difficult to master. I’ve met many artists, including Nguyen Dang Che, who does Dong Ho painting, Le Dinh Nghien, who does Hang Trong painting, and Le Quy Duc, who is a researcher of traditional craft villages. I hope to form a ‘Hoa kim sa’ craft village to preserve and promote this art technique and ‘Phap lam’ art,” she said.