Thanks to this visit, I found out the source and reason for the frequent presence of Pham Hoc Hai's posters in the Dogma collection
In life there are sayings such as 'Do not celebrate triumph before victory'. But it was delightful to have an out of the blue encounter such as that which led me to meet Le Lam, 'the greatest painter of Vietnam' according to Colonel ?writer, Nguyen Tran Triet.
Everything fell into place simply and perfectly, a phone call, and there we were meeting Le Lam ? the artist pseudonym of Vu Quoc Ai, who lives on Thanh Cong in Hanoi. There was not enough time to say everything we wanted to, but I saw with my own eyes posters, paintings and photographs of him painting in the forests and jungles of the South. Enough to understand what a patriot he was ? a daring fighter on the cultural front who left his wife, a pretty traditional Northern operetta singer-actress and his two children back in his hometown, and volunteered to "Go B" (code for South) and "Go K" (Cambodia) to fight in those terrible years.
War is over now, and the artists are old, some with frail, some still living with suffering. But the talent and enthusiasm of these cultural fighters who drew under bombs and bullets during those dark days, keeps flowing endlessly.
Le Lam, Thuc Phi, Nguyen Thu, Pham Thanh Tam, Huynh Phuong Dong and their companions may be in their eighties but these painters have continued creating works voicing the thirst for peace, the hope that people on earth may help one another and live together in affection.
Parting company with the Hanoi autumn, I flew back to Saigon, carrying unforgettable memories and reflecting on how such terrible times and circumstances produce such people. I can not keep feeling stunned, thinking of these artists made of flesh and blood, and how extraordinary they were.