A photographer captures the nation s military leaders in repose.
HA NOI Photographer Tran Viet Van portrays the life of Vietnamese military commanders through his recently opened solo exhibition entitled Generals in Peacetime.
Through 65 colour and black-and-white photos captured at different times and places, the lives of top-ranking General Vo Nguyen Giap, lieutenant-generals Nguyen Duc Soat, Nguyen Van Tinh, Pham Xuan The, Nguyen An and major-general Nguyen Duc Huy are shown.
The idea of taking photos of the generals in the peacetime came to Van when he photographed General Giap in May to illustrate an article for Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper where Van works.
Huy says he s always moved when seeing his photos of the daily life of military men when exhibited.
"I and other commanders now in their 70s, living an ordinary life like other people," he says, "we feel proud that Van has shown an interested in us."
"When the country was at risk, we volunteered to join the army. Now, although the country is at peace, we still follow the current situation and are devoted to the country s defence."
Before visiting the exhibition, Nguyen Thu Thao wondered how Van would express the theme of veterans during a period of peace.
"His talent completely has won my heart," Thao says, "Van captures the simple lives of the generals but still express their character as heroes."
Although many visitors agree that the photos portray modest pictures of the commanders to people, it s not the exhibition s purpose, said Van.
"The generals themselves live closely to their community," he says, "I display their photos to respect their devotion and sacrifices."
Van says he learned many moral lessons from the retired generals.
The commanders want a peaceful life. For them, moments with their families are the most precious thing. They are well aware, none better than them, of the price of peace.
Comradeship is a holy and noble sentiment. Van captured moving moments when the generals meet their old comrades.
The photo that brings Van most satisfaction is the moment after General Giap met his comrades. When the guests left, Giap looked thoughtful. The red glow of the setting sun created an emotional space. The general s face, hands and position was almost Zen-like.
The exhibition is the first part of a project over many years of Van s life. The second part will bring photos of generals from different parts of the armed forces in different regions of the country.
Beside photos, Van also displays stories and conversations with the commanders. The text and photos will be published when the project wraps up.
The exhibition will run until today at Exhibition House, 29 Hang Bai Street, Ha Noi. VNS