Vietnam Time

4/30/2018 9:15:11 AM

Trend of mural roads in Hanoi: A look from both sides

Cultural managers and the arts and architecture community began to worry about this trend of color chaos in Hanoi.

The "Hanoi Ceramic road" along the Red River dyke is the opening for the idea of ​​street decoration with paintings in Hanoi. Community painting projects in the city up to now have not only reached Guinness records, but also weaved through in small streets, alleys of residential areas, such as alley 78 on Duy Tan Street, alley 136 on Ho Tung Mau Street, residential quarter near Lang Buddhist Temple, Yen Phu residential quarter, etc.

Mural corner in Phung Hung Street, Hanoi. (Source:


As many as 40 3D wall paintings (each is about 3m high, 6m long) at Alley 136 on Ho Tung Mau Street (Mai Dich Ward, Cau Giay District) revolve around themes of Vietnamese fairy tales, Mid-Autumn Festival, Dong Ho paintings, Vietnamese landscape ... The project, completed by 20 artists who had skillfully painted on the wall, has really created a new look for the small alley.

Not only the locals are enjoying themselves, but the people who often travel or do business on this alley are happy to see this as an ideal retreat. "In fact, this place has very few trees, also is near the dusty construction site, but since the street murals were painted, the air around it has become very pleasant," confided Le Van Tan, a motorbike taxi driver at the alley 136 on Ho Tung Mau.

Pottery pictures of more than 200m in length were built by the people of the residential group 28 of Alley 76 on Duy Tan Street, to beautify the lane where they live.

Also in the area of ​​Cau Giay district, the second "ceramic road" of Hanoi has formed since 2014 at alley 78 on Duy Tan Street. Only 200m long, built on the wall of the Dich Vong B Primary School, the people of the residential group 28 have sent all sorts of messages via the wall paintings. At the second "ceramic road," there is a painting with depiction of the streets of Hanoi, but there is also a painting portraying the countryside of Vietnam with images of banyan tree, water well, communal house yard or the story of imperial exam takers carrying their tent and bamboo bed to the examination site, etc.

Hoang Minh Phuong (at Room 3, A3 Building, residential quarter of the Women Association’s Central Committee) shared, "Since the appearance of the 3D paintings in this residential area, the people living in the compound are well pleased and excited. The paintings make the old walls shine brightly, not only contributing to the change in appearance of the neighborhood but also connecting the city community.”

The paintings are the result of a community project, called Arts Build Communities, conducted by young artists coming to Hanoi from the Ho Chi Minh City Architecture, Art and Design Company. According to Phuong, the paintings remind her of the old Hanoi with old city trains/tramps, and the Lang village with its typical village farming plots/fields plus Lang basil…

And as the movement spread, this residential area learnt from the other residential area, people started to encounter such frescoes in the small alleys on Kim Ma Street, Yen Phu residential quarter, etc. Through arts, sometimes people tell the story of their village, but at other times, the story of other cities in the world, or of imaginary land.

"Beautifying the street is what we should do. We are not too rigid here, however the content and ideas of the painting must be appropriate; there must be control to fend off the anti-art. Painting outside your house falls within public space, thus it does not mean that people having money can draw anything as they want," said Director of Hanoi Department of Culture and Information To Van Dong.

"For community arts, there should be curating team who have the expertise to realise the goodwill of individuals or organizations who want to decorate in public places," said Artist Le Thiet Cuong.

The old collective zone in Phao Dai Lang are decorated with vivid 3D paintings of ancient Hanoi, sea world, etc.


Artistic painters and cultural managers in Hanoi admit the idea of ​​painting 3D pictures on the old walls to create a new look in the living place is becoming a trend in many residential areas in Hanoi. Tran Khanh Chuong, Chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, Chairman of the Hanoi Street Decoration Council, encourages the development of public art, in order to bring art closer to the public.

However, painter Tran Khanh Chuong said: "I do not agree to spontaneous decoration on the streets of Hanoi, because if it continues how the city will look like? Art works in public places for the public to enjoy must be the "enjoyable" art pieces instead of messing up the city. Meanwhile, most of the paintings appearing in the residential areas of Hanoi are either amateur, or made by unknown artists therefore it is difficult to put strong weight on the quality of art.”

Although Hanoi has not yet had paintings that are considered disastrous, painters and architects warn that Hanoi needs to draw lessons from the painting of flowers on electricity poles in Ho Chi Minh City.

"It is not the case that any dirty, messy place that got renewed by artistic paintings would become beautiful," said painter Le Thiet Cuong.

Painter Tran Van Minh, a participant in the long 3D mural painting at alley 136 on Ho Tung Mau, concedes that these activities should be under planning by urban management agencies for the art works to achieve the best aesthetics.

Although the Department of Culture and Information of Hanoi is not responsible for licensing these projects, according to To Van Dong - Director of Hanoi Department of Culture and Information, the district Culture and Information agencies have the responsibility to control the content of these projects./.

Cam Anh  
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