06 Oct – 05 Nov 2022
A2Z Art Gallery
24 rue de l’Echaudé, District 6, Paris
From the organizer:
Galerie A2Z presents ““TÔI & MOI”, the first solo exhibition by Trần Trọng Vũ in Paris, showcasing selected artworks from 2002 to 2022.
Being the youngest son of poet Trần Dần , Trần Trọng Vũ was among the first artists who left Vietnam during Doi Moi to study art in France. When the Berlin Wall fell in winter 1989, he arrived in Paris with only a vest, a suitcase bought on a stopover in Prague, and memories of a “radiant” native country buried in the colors of propaganda paintings and an exhausted post-war economy.
The exhibition begins on the ground floor with paintings and an installation. Reflective words are weaved with emotionless faces, on colorful backgrounds, predominantly red and yellow. These images are familiar for those who know communist countries: they use the same palette and aesthetic of propaganda art, first seen on every street of the Soviet Union in the early 20th century. Vũ calls it “the colorful brainwashing campaign.” Those images are still vivid in his memory, even more than 30 years after he escaped his country.
However, he may also have lost memories of homeland, and thus parts of his identity, while the leftover recollections may just have become speculations.
The first floor is an epilogue of his past, and focuses more of Vũ’s observations on France, the foreign surrounding country he would later call “home.” One cannot live without the past. For Vu, the past does not stand still in nostalgia. As someone who has detached himself from his own memory, the artist depicts how it fluctuates and grows along with ongoing reality, intertwining two worlds to create fictitious scenes, sometimes absurd.
“This is a disturbance of time and space, of absurdity and rationality, of possible and impossible”
– Trần Trọng Vũ
The exhibition is a thread through history, navigating between youthful memories, personal projections, and family stories. Everything is placed in a theatrical and contradictory setting, in conflicts between things that have no connection but are necessary to each other. The witty artist documents his experiences with a series of paradoxical symbols and metaphors, both humorous, satirical, and poignant.
Trần Trọng Vũ Trần Trọng Vũ was born and raised in Hanoi, graduated from Vietnam University of Fine Art and taught there from 1982 to 1989. He received a scholarship from the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1989). Since then, he has lived and worked between France and Vietnam.
His work often presents social observations and historical upheavals, interwoven with his personal and family stories. With very typical satirical styles, he wants viewers to be curious and skeptical about what they see by overturning common visual concepts and deceiving the eye with materials and sizes.
In 2011 – 2012, Trần Trọng Vũ was the first Vietnamese to be awarded the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Prize by the Jackson Pollock – Lee Krasner Art Foundation in New York (USA). Some of his recent solo exhibitions include “Ces années-là” (2021) at the Halle des Chartrons, Bordeaux; “The Sonnet In Blue” (2017) at the National Gallery Singapore; “Les Mots Qui N’étaient Pas Dits” at the Fondation Dapper” (2014), l’îe de Gorée and “Blue Memory” (2004) at the The Arizona State University Art Museum, Arizona (USA). Vu’s work is exhibited and appears in the collections of the National Museum of Singapore, the National Museum of Vietnam and prestigious private collections worldwide.
Lê Thiên Bảo anchored her connections in the Vietnam art scene in 2010. Until 2016, she became curator at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City. In more than 3 years here, she developed her curatorial practices with various exhibitions and educational programs to bring contemporary arts to the public in Vietnam while starting her own study on the Southeast Asian art market. In 2017, she co-founded and curated the archive “Spirit of Friendship” with Zoe Butt and Bill Nguyễn, continues to update activities of the art collectives in Vietnam from 1975-today. Besides, she was invited to the board of advisors for Mekong Cultural Hub, representing Vietnam, offering personal and professional development opportunities for creative cultural practitioners in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Taiwan. In 2019, she founded the Symbioses, who has co-organized and maintained Nổ Cái Bùm art week in Hue (2020) and Dalat (2022). After graduating as valedictorian of Master International Art Market Management in École d’Art et de Culture Paris (EAC) de Paris, she worked for the galerie Francoise Livinec to participate in Art Paris and La Biennale de Paris art fairs 2021. Currently, Thiên-Bảo continues to live and work in Paris to develop her network in the French art market.