A unique painting exhibition displaying art works of people with autism is opening in downtown Hanoi.
Cham (Touch), as it is named, includes drawings, collages as well as sculptures by Ujita Masato, 43, from Japan, and five teenagers from Hanoi, including Nguyen Trung Hieu, Trinh Hoang Minh, Pham Binh Minh, Nguyen Gia Bao and Ha Dinh Chi.
“People with autism are not as lonely as we assume they are,” said Vu Song Ha, deputy director of the Health and Population Initiative Centre. “As you can see here, their souls are so rich and we should try to understand them. Such an exhibition is a chance for us to understand the world of people with autism so that our society will treat them properly, and offer them suitable jobs to make contributions back to society.”
Among the exhibits are colourful scenes, portraits, humourous sculptures, and even clumsy sketches that are difficult to understand but they express the painters’ feelings in their own world.
Behind the event are countless efforts by their parents.
“We occasionally organise such an exhibition to enhance people’s knowledge of autism,” said Nguyen Lan Phuong, mother of 12-year-old Ha Dinh Chi, “We also want to confirm the ability to contribute to society by people with autism. In Vietnam, people with autism have not received proper attention, especially grown-ups. There are no vocational centres for them. They can hardly find any jobs.”
Painter Le Thiet Cuong, who was invited to select the paintings for display, sees real talent.
“It’s very challenging for me to select their paintings,” he told Vietnam News.
“Every painting is beautiful in its own way. All their paintings are full of sunlight, wind, joy and sometimes contain strange views. They express things that even normal painters cannot express.
“Above beauty and clumsiness, their works ‘touch’ people’s souls, as their parents named the event. The art of painting in this case is a way to connect the hearts of people with autism to those of ordinary people.”
“I hope to help them create a centre where they can to integrate with other people so that their art works do not stop at exhibitions but last longer in products for sale like souvernirs, ceramic wares, decorative patterns on fashion,” he said.
Accompanying her 43-year-old son to the exhibition, Ujita Teruko said she and her son were happy to join the event in Vietnam though she hosts an exhibition for him every four years in Japan.
“People with autism like my son find it dificult to communicate with other people,” Ujita said, “Yet through paintings my son expresses his warm heart to other family members and the surrounding world. I think painting is good for people with autism.”
Ujita Masato works at Yakuju Will Company, which employs disabled people, in Yokohama City, washing blankets and mattresses. He has lived on his own for 11 years in a group home. He returns home every weekend to visit his parents. He likes painting, calligraphy, embroidery, kayaking and travelling.
His paintings are displayed at Aoba Gallery, Midori District, Yokohama City and at the offices of Yakujyu Company and cafes run by the Morinokai Association.
Nguyen Trung Hieu (18 years old); Hoang Minh (16); Binh Minh (14); Gia Bao (15) and Dinh Chi (12) are all from Hanoi. They all attend regular schools beside practising drawing. Some play musical instruments well.
"I found some interesting paintings here," said Peny Anjre, a tourist from France. "They are both realistic and free in style."
The exhibition runs till March 12 at the Vietnamese Women's Museum, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street.