Painter Saeko Ando: The cherry-blossom in lacquer painting

Saeko Ando has been in Vietnam for 11 years. Every year she goes home to Nagoya (Japan) and then returns to Hanoi. She and Vietnamese painters work hard with the boxes of egg shell, paint, golden and silver litmus leaves... Now, the biggest path for her is to pursuing Vietnamese lacquer art.

The first step


In 1996, Saeko began learning about lacquer painting from painter Trinh Tuan. In 1997, after being introduced to painter Bui Tuan Thanh, she came to the workshop of craftsman Doan Chi Trung where many painters meet and share their creativity.


"In principal, the beginners have to clean and tidy up things, but I was spared these tasks as I was almost elderly (nearly 30 years old!). Moreover, since I was able to paint and known a lot about painting I could instantly set to work".


With the whole-hearted teaching of Mr. Chi Trung, Saeko could adapt very quickly. When she was a child, her mother used to draw pictures for any story she told the kids so she grew up with a love of art and her family.



Ảnh minh họa  

               A lacquer painting by Saeko


With pieces of egg shell, golden and silver leaves as well as her industry and cleverness… her pictures take shape. She bought books in Vietnam and Japan, studied and compared the lacquer art from the two countries to gather experiences for her paintings.


It is the predestination


10 years have passed, Saeko Ando can not remember how many paintings she has completed and how many painters and people value her art.


Saeko had 3 exhibitions in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city and the 3rd was with painter Nguyen Huy Hoang, o­ne of her colleagues in their private company called Cay Son that was established last year. These 3 exhibitions were also organized in some cities in Japan as Kobe, Kyoto and Nagoya.


These days, her pictures are displayed in the exhibition o­n Vietnamese lacquer paintings in Kyoto, Tokyo and Saporo.


Lacquer art also exists in Japan but mostly applied to the crafts industry and used to decorate doors. This is why, Japanese people are very surprised to realize that Saeko’s paintings are Japanese in style thanks to Vietnamese lacquer technique. The essential thing is she can make the colors of pictures, bold Zen styles become fresher and brighter with no use of industrial paint.


Now, Saeko is very busy with her creation works and teaches lacquer art to people from many countries at her Cay Son company.


Raising the profile of Vietnamese lacquer art has been her “task”. "Foreigners and even Vietnamese people should know deeply and properly about traditional lacquer art but not the shiny lacquers they sell in the street" said Saeko.


In 2001 she married Mark, an English construction engineer. They made a commitment before their wedding: wherever they go, o­nce a year, she will go back to Hanoi with her magical lacquer paintings which will always be waiting for her and filled with passion and wishes, and they will wake up o­nce she gets back.

Nong Thon Ngay Nay
Translated by VWU Int’l Relations Dept.