Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 June 2019

Hanoi postcard: Vietnam artist paints Donald Trump again and again

Tran Lam Binh creates ten pop-art portraits of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump to mark summit

Tran Lam Binh puts the final touches to a portrait of President Donald Trump in Hanoi. AP
Tran Lam Binh puts the final touches to a portrait of President Donald Trump in Hanoi. AP

The stereotype of artists as eccentric is a common one, and the work of Vietnamese artist Tran Lam Binh seems to support that view. Since 2015 he has turned out painting after painting of Donald Trump. Many can be seen this week in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, where Mr Trump is holding a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Binh has also fashioned a statue of the American president that is almost 2 metres tall, more or less life size.

Don't assume he bis single-minded, however.

In 2017, he began diversifying his portfolio of roughly 50 depictions of Mr Trump by painting portraits of the North Korean leader as well.

So this week is kind of a perfect storm for 36-year-old Binh with his two favourite subjects coming to his homeland to discuss peace on the Korean Peninsula.

To mark the event, he has created about 10 pop-art portraits of the two leaders on canvas and paper in bright pink, blue, orange and yellow colours decorated with hearts and the words "Love" and "Peace."

Binh said he won't sell the portraits and instead will keep them as a souvenir of the historic event. He may not be turning a profit, but has been reaping a motherlode of publicity as the summit has brought foreign and local media in droves to see him and his work.

Binh started painting Trump portraits in 2015, when the American real estate mogul launched his campaign for the presidency. After Mr Trump's election victory, he staged an exhibition of his works near the White House.

The artist's style, with garish colours and casual brush strokes, somewhat recalls the paintings of Canadian comedian Jim Carrey, another Trump obsessive.

Carrey's barbed caricatures, posted on the internet, make no secret of the fact that he is a fierce critic of Mr Trump and his politics.

Binh, on the other hand, is a fan.

"I liked his expression when he was running for president," he said. "He seemed like the world's most contemporary artwork. He's at a relatively advanced age, but very youthful, dynamic, fashionable and with inner strength that shows the greatness of a man who can change the world – and so I began my paintings."

Tran Lam Binh poses for a photo with part of his creations in Hanoi. AP
Tran Lam Binh poses for a photo with part of his creations in Hanoi. AP

Binh said he wants to invite Mr Trump and Mr Kim, "if they have time," to visit his studio and view his work.

"I will invite them for coffee and paint portraits of them and give them the paintings as a token with a message of love and peace," he said.

Tran Tuan Anh, the owner of the cafe where Mr Binh's works are being displayed, said he hopes the leaders can strike a deal at their meeting in Hanoi.

"With a message of peace in the city of peace, I'm very hopeful that the two leaders will achieve peace for the two countries as well as for the whole world," he said.

Updated: February 27, 2019 08:42 AM