"André Maire, return to Indochina (1948-1958)"
May 19 to September 12, 2021
Free access to the permanent collections
In 2019, Mrs. Lorédana Harscoët-Maire, daughter of the artist André Maire (1898-1984), generously donated a set of 27 drawings from her father's studio collection. These drawings date from André Maire's second stay in Vietnam, between 1948 and 1958.
André Mayor, born in Paris in 1898, trained at the art school of the Place des Vosges where he met in 1914 Émile Bernard, the father of symbolism, who would become his stepfather in 1922. On his advice, André Maire s 'enlist in the colonial infantry to travel and confront other subjects.
His first trip will be Saigon from 1919 to 1920. He taught drawing there intermittently at the Lycée Chasseloup-Laubat. He discovered the ruins of Angkor and gradually forged his own stylistic vocabulary.
After living in Venice, Spain, Egypt, India and Africa, André Maire was appointed professor of drawing at the École Supérieure d'Architecture in 1948, settled in Dalat until 1950, then moved to Saigon. He therefore returned to ancient Indochina, now torn between the governments of the South and the North. He remained until 1958 in the Republic of South Vietnam before returning to France. From the south, it was possible for him to travel regularly to Laos and Cambodia.
City Dalat was built by the French at the beginning of the XXe century. Perched at an altitude of 1500 m, on the highlands of south-central Vietnam, it enjoys a temperate climate all year round. In his blood drawings, André Maire underlines his cultural diversity: next to the French hospital, the new Buddhist temple of Linh Sơn, founded in 1938, testifies to the growing settlement of the Vietnamese of the plains, Buddhists, in this territory. originally occupied by mountain ethnic groups, speaking Mon-Khmer. We recognize the traditional weaves with horizontal bands and the bun hairstyle of Êđê and Giarai.
From 1950, André Maire resided in Saigon because the Superior School of Architecture moved there. In his drawings, the mountains, the pine forests and the colorfully dressed hill tribes of Dalat give way to scenes from the life of the Kinh of the plains. The Kinh, or Việt, the majority ethnic group of Vietnam, have assimilated the contributions of Chinese culture for two millennia. They settled on the coastal plain, descending from north to south, while pushing the indigenous peoples towards the mountains.
Scenes in which André Maire depicts the ports and countryside of the Mekong Delta reveal cultural elements Kinh, inherited from China, such as the overhanging roof architecture of the temple appearing in Vessel loaded with jars or the funerary monuments bearing Chinese characters in the Graveyard. Other details bear witness to the animist beliefs of the Kinh: the altar made in the trunk of the large banyan tree in Caulking evokes the cult given to the genius of the tree. Eyes painted on the bow of the great Vessel loaded with jars breathe life into the boat and protect it from pitfalls.