Made in Vietnam ˇV Tran Trong Vu

October 17 ˇV 27, 2001

Plum Blossoms (USA) Gallery


ˇ§Made in Vietnamˇ¨ is a new series of installation and painting begun in New York this spring when Tran participated in the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). In his art Tran explores what it means to be Asian and Vietnamese within the context of an increasingly Western-biased global monoculture. Broadly grinning male and female figures clad only in white underpants are roughly painted larger-than-lifesize on narrow sheets of transparent plastic. Suspended from the ceiling and hung close together, they occupy the space, forming a labyrinth through which the viewer must walk sometimes having to brush paintings aside to move forward. The figures, some holding cameras to their faces, stare down at the viewer and the viewer is transformed into the ˇ§viewedˇ¨. Grinning faces appear throughout Tranˇ¦s work, a bitter and ironic poke at the Western-held stereotype of the ˇ§smiling Asianˇ¨. In a large full-length portrait painted in bold colors on plastic, a woman-farmer grins madly over her shoulder at the viewer while she strains to lift the full bucket of water in which she is standing. Tran co-ops the methods of advertising to convey his message simply, directly and quickly. Tran says ˇ§Painting like writing is a violation of privacy.ˇ¨ Contained in his works are fragments of memory and reality which reveal the sum of his experiences, a portrait of the artist

Tran Trong Vu was born in Hanoi in 1964, the youngest son of Tran Dan, one of the best known dissident writers of the 1950s. Tran graduated first in his class at the Hanoi School of Fine Arts in 1987 and subsequently in 1989 won a scholarship to study painting at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he has lived since. Tran was featured in Plum Blossomsˇ¦ 1991 exhibition in Hong Kong, ˇ§Uncorked Soulˇ¨, the first major exhibition of Vietnamese art presented outside the country after the 1986 implementation of Doi Moi, the government policy which allowed for the re-entry of Vietnam into the world market. Tran Trong Vu has exhibited widely in Europe and several exhibitions of his work have been presented in galleries in Hanoi. Tranˇ¦s installation, ˇ§The Rain Roomˇ¨, was exhibited at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in 1999. In 2000 together with eight other international artists he was invited by General Motors to embellish the new Opel Corsa at the Paris Motor Showˇ¦s ˇ§Art and Fashion 2000ˇ¨. Another installation ˇ§Journal der Orteˇ¨ was displayed outdoors at the Roselius Museum in Worpswede near Hamburg. His works have most recently been seen in the United States in the recently released film ˇ§Vertical Ray of the Sunˇ¨.



Copyright © 2001 by Plum Blossoms Gallery and Tran Trong Vu. All rights reserved.