Artist’s sketch collection celebrates Saigonese’s altruism during hard times

Artist’s sketch collection celebrates Saigonese’s altruism during hard times
‘Dong sua ngot ngao,’ a sketch by Le Sa Long depicting frontline doctor Pham Thi Thanh Thuy feeding milk to a coronavirus-infected baby in Vietnam

In his ongoing sketch project, Ho Chi Minh City-based artist Le Sa Long strives to portray the small acts of generosity among residents, a virtue that has once again been highlighted during the tough time of social distancing in the southern city.

An established painter in the domestic art scene who has multiple solo exhibitions and awards under his belt, Long picked up urban sketching as a habit in mid-May.

He wandered the city which he has called home for over 30 years for live sketches for a few weeks, until it began to be put under social distancing measures on May 31 and later a citywide ban on non-essential travels on June 15.

Cooped up at home under this hibernation phase, Long decided to create a new series of sketches inspired by heartwarming photos of Saigonese that he spotted on social media and in newspapers. 

He has so far portrayed 40 vignettes on paper and is planning to create more. 

<em>Artist Le Sa Long completes a sketch in his studio in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: </em>Phuong Nam / Tuoi Tre
Artist Le Sa Long completes a sketch in his studio in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Phuong Nam / Tuoi Tre

“These images of Saigonese residents helping each other out during hard times touched my soul,” he said.

“I was inspired to translate these moments and put them under a new light through the language of art.”

A standout in his collection is the vignette of a five-year-old wearing PPE overalls, standing by herself, waving goodbye to the camera before boarding an ambulance to enter quarantine. 

Another sketch pays tribute to pop singer Ha Anh Tuan, who donated 25 metric tons of rice to help the struggling citizens. 

Other optimistic news stories, including no-cost grocery stores for the needy, community fridges, and charity efforts benefiting pandemic-struck people, are also portrayed.

The sketches have earned Long showers of praises after they were posted on his social media account. 

Many individuals have even asked to buy his pieces online, despite not having seen them in person, Long revealed.

He plans to auction several slice-of-life works to raise funds for charity causes for underprivileged people in the city, while portrait pieces of Ha Anh Tuan or frontline doctors will be gifted to the respective subjects as a tribute. 

<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a five-year-old in PPE overalls waving goodbye before boarding an ambulance to enter quarantine in Vietnam.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a five-year-old in PPE overalls waving goodbye before boarding an ambulance to enter quarantine in Vietnam.
<em>A portrait sketch of singer Ha Anh Tuan by artist Le Sa Long</em>
A portrait sketch of singer Ha Anh Tuan by artist Le Sa Long
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a no-cost grocery store distributing complimentary items to people in need in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a no-cost grocery store distributing complimentary items to people in need in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts Ngo Duc Ke Street in Ho Chi Minh City during social distancing days.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts Ngo Duc Ke Street in Ho Chi Minh City during social distancing days.
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a lottery seller in Ho Chi Minh City.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a lottery seller in Ho Chi Minh City.
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a Ho Chi Minh City resident and her dog.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long depicts a Ho Chi Minh City resident and her dog.
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long shows a lottery seller receiving a box of instant ramen from a woman.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long shows a lottery seller receiving a box of instant ramen from a woman.
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long captures Con Rua Lake in Ho Chi Minh City during social distancing days.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long captures Con Rua Lake in Ho Chi Minh City during social distancing days.
<em>A sketch by Le Sa Long shows Nhieu Loc Canal in Ho Chi Minh City during social distancing days.</em>
A sketch by Le Sa Long shows Nhieu Loc Canal in Ho Chi Minh City during social distancing days.
<em>A solo exhibition features caricatures of famous figures in face masks in Vietnam.</em>
A solo exhibition features caricatures of famous figures in face masks in Vietnam.

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