November 11, 2019
This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in ten years and his first show with the gallery. When considering the emergence of contemporary art in Vietnam, few have proved more courageous or experimental than Truong Tan. In addition to being the first openly gay artist in Vietnam to freely address issues of homosexuality in his art, he has also proven influential due to his relentless originality as a painter and his groundbreaking works of performance and installation in the 1990s.
With his new work, Truong Tan continues to innovate, presenting a series of highly unusual lacquer paintings and two ambitious installations.
In early 2017 Truong Tan began creating hyper-realistic depictions of celestial bodies swirling in outer space. The level of detail in these paintings is unprecedented for the medium of lacquer, with Tan using a wide variety of shell fragments collected from around the world to put every star in the sky. The first painting in the series, Human (2017 – 2019), features a planet viewed from space, partially obscured by a swarm of belligerent figures holding knives. The figures are painted in black on black, forcing the viewer to squint and shift perspective to see them clearly, representing the teeming mass of humanity and the regrettable impacts of our actions upon each other and the planet. Inspired by this particular work, Tan set out to create 23 additional paintings of planets, symbolizing the variety of emotional states which an individual might pass through in a single day, as well as the 24 frames per second which create the illusion of movement in film. All 24 lacquer paintings are installed in a single room, the works hung tightly together to achieve a panoramic effect as if the viewers themselves we cosmos.
Drifting through a different space is Family (2019), a work comprising 42 jellyfish meticulously created in silk and polyester. Gently lit with color-changing lights, the jellyfish float down from the 5.5-meter-high ceiling at the gallery entrance, adapting to the gallery’s architecture as the ceiling decreases.
The exhibition includes another major installation titled Journey (2019). The work consists of 10,000 handmade paper sculptures resembling spermatozoa crossing a long narrow bamboo bridge, the bridge itself draped in white mosquito netting. The material gives the installation an aura of purity, but this is humorously undercut by the autoerotic subtext of the sculptures, each of which was made from an individual facial tissue.
Taken as a whole, the new work is a testament to the indomitable creative spirit of an artist who has never stopped testing the limits of art in society, as well as his technical capabilities. Like a breakaway planet unhinged from orbit, he continues to hurtle headfirst into the unknown, inspiring successive generations of other artists along the way.
Exhibition Dates: November 15, 2019 – January 4, 2020
Opening Reception: Thursday, 14 November from 6:30 – 8:30pm
Galerie Quynh 118 Nguyen Van Thu, Dakao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City