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Nguyễn Ðức Thọ was born in Hà Nam province in the north of Vietnam on 20 September 1945. In the 1960s, he served as a regular soldier in a missile unit of the People’s Army of Vietnam (also known as the North Vietnamese Army). In 1965, he was sent to the Soviet Union for training and education on missile systems as a soldier and engineer. Upon his return to Hanoi, he became a training officer in the Political Unit of the Anti-aircraft Division.

Unexpectedly, Thọ evolved into becoming an artist, driven by what he described as the army’s natural demand for art. Thọ was in charge of making banners, decorating meeting halls and drawing propaganda posters for his unit. For propaganda purposes, he was primarily painting watercolour portraits.  He had to find good soldiers who were well respected and awarded for their achievements and help portray them as idols for other units and divisions. Such images were considered the most important subjects for propaganda, though Thọ also made art works for purely documentary purposes and out of personal interest as an artist. Art exhibitions were made in divisional barracks to show many of his works. They were also published in Quân Đội Nhân Dân (‘People’s Army’ newspaper).

After the war, Thọ graduated from Hanoi Fine Art College in 1976.


Nguyễn Ðức Thọ

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