June 1979: Artists Capture the Destruction at Đồng Đăng

In June 1979, three months after the end of the Sino-Vietnamese War, artists Lương Xuân Đoàn and Phạm Lực witnessed the destruction caused by the conflict in the town of Đồng Đăng in Lạng Sơn Province.

After his experience documenting the French fort and surrounding countryside near Đồng Đăng, Lương Xuân Đoàn had the opportunity to paint and sketch inside the town of Đồng Đăng. In his graphite sketch (fig. 1), Đoàn recorded the remains of the Lạng Sơn Power Plant (Nhà máy điện Lạng Sơn).

Figure 1: Lương Xuân Đoàn, 26 June 1979, Lạng Sơn Province on the Chinese border, “Nhà máy điện Lạng Sơn (Lạng Sơn Power Plant).” Graphite pencil on machine-made paper.

Phạm Lực‘s portrayal of Đồng Đăng (fig. 2) shows the extent of the town’s destruction after suffering from Chinese bombardment. In the bottom of the watercolour painting, Lực included two People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) soldiers huddled under a makeshift shelter. Despite the war ending in March 1979, thier presence in Đồng Đăng signifies the uncertain reality of Sino-Vietnamese relations at the time and the affect this must have had on the border towns.

Figure 2: Phạm Lực, 1979, Đồng Đăng town in Cao Lộc District, Lạng Sơn Province. Watercolour on machine-made paper.

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