Under the Light of an Oil Lamp [Part 5]

230. An artist paints all the time. Even when he is not doing anything, he is painting in his mind.

231. Greed in Art is a harmful thing. Just stuffing a dish with all sort of flavours does not make it a wonderful meal. Just as surely as the insufficiencies, the excesses ruin Art.

232. In life, there’s no shortage of people without talent (in an artistic sense). It is best not to refer to them because even if you say it, they would still be disbelieving, unalterable, they would not try to learn from those who are good and they would only be resentful, causing you more irritations.

233. Criticisms are sometimes very necessary for people working with Art. It appears to be an initiator, a catalyst. It pushes these people to seek further, understand deeper, be more passionate. Satisfaction extinguishes desire.

234. The are people who are indeed without talent. And yet they are so terribly boastful! Well, there’s nothing to it, these were just lucky. Luck is more useful than wisdom but luck couples with wisdom is even more beneficial. These people were of their time and they happend to answer.

235. How sad it is for those without talent. If only he’s more decent and follows a career that’s more suitable for him. But as it is he turns to deceiving and it is rather irritating.

236. Let’s spend more time to think about the profession, about Beauty about our own artistic concepts. You will realise it if your soul is unmoved. Allow yourself be emotionally affected in order to paint. If you don’t feel affected by something then change and paint something else, some thing that moves you.

It is not difficulty that I fear but inadequacy.

In reality, there is a confused mix, Beauty sometimes stands next to ugliness. To really see Beauty is not something as easy or simple as taking notes.

237. Don’t confuse between a profound level with comfort with shallowness or lackadaisical attitude. Art is won’t be capable of stifling felling in people if it is mediocre and lacks sincerity.

238. Reality allows you to capture the truth. The truth is fundamentally for us to capture Beauty. From that captured Beauty we have some basis to “talk” about Art.

239. A talented artist is one who creates quality, not cheap, not well worn, not old — works, who does not imitate or following the moulds formed by school, who is not easily praised, does not fear being discarded or reviled

250. To “understand” the sensitivity, or maybe for the sake of accuracy we should say to “feel” the sensitivity of a painting, is not a simple matter… Many beautiful paintings are recognised by only a few people because they have within them something new (that the viewers haveyet to understand) and something sensitive (that the viewers have yet to feel).

251. Vietnamese vocabulary does not contain many words to clearly distinguish between

the followers of the many disciplines that exist in pictorial Art. Often they are all just

called Painter for the sake of convenience. As long as you paint, you will be known as

a painter, regardless of what you paint with or what you paint. And once you are called

a “painter”, it seems that you are capable of doing anything at all.

Well, if you can paint anything at all then it would be difficult to paint certain something really well.

Is it possible that painting as a profession is not as highly regarded in our country as it is else where?

In other countries, the public tends to pay much attention to unique, original talent. Because there is such profusion of ordinary talent that it is not possible . . to take note of them all! For that reason, we should not be surprised when certain talents are frequently mentioned in the press. But don’t forget that there are extremely original talents that have yet to receive any praise. Maybe time is needed to see if a talent will grow greater or become smaller!

252. The precious thing within an artist is his sensitivity. Without it, it is difficult to become a great artist. Diligence is not enough, neither are skilful hands. The skilful hands do not make you better than someone else, but richness and sensitivity of the soul do.

253. Be guileless when you paint. I say guileless, meaning that you should not set out to express anything and you should not try too hard.

Whatever is appealing in the painting must come from you yourself. It must be your won creation. [low sad it would be if your painting is covered with a layer of “moss” (in the words of Chagall). That “moss” is made up of things that are not yours. It is similar to trying to jazz up something with a layer of plating.

254. One extremely important matter that tends to be disregarded by artists is health. Take care of your health, stay healthy at all time, don’t “be sick 3 days out of 5” like some people (a Vietnamese saying to indicate a sickly person). That will definitely restrict your creativity.*

Time goes by, what is “today” will soon be known as “yesterday”. The Good and the Beautiful will live on & vice versa. My friend, don’t be so hastily proud*, how many works have you created? Are they true masterpieces?

It is best not to rate yourself too highly. Work diligently, work harder than you have ever done!

You cannot be satisfied with what you have done. My dear friend, shouldn’t you do more and do better?

A phrase of modesty: “I have yet to create a significant work”. Saying that so that one continues to try and work harder, not to just simply … give up the race.

Hanoi September 2000

On the anniversary of the 80th birthday of Bui Xuan Phai (1.9.1920 — 1 .9.2000)
BUI THANH PHUONG – TRANHAU TUAN collected and edited.
Cafe Artist Phuong 31 Cua Dong -Hanoi

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