National Institute of Contemporary Art | Tuan Vu’s Tropical Stories

Montreal artist Tuan Vu is exhibiting his latest works at the Institut National Art Contemporain gallery in Old Montreal until December 5. Hedonistic dreams a happy blend of tropical atmosphere and references to the mythologies and artists that inspired the artist.

These days, entering the Institut National Gallery of Modern Art makes you want to go to the tropics. There is a warm atmosphere, a bit like stepping off a plane in Tuan Vu’s home country of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The artist, who arrived in Quebec at the age of 10, exhibits paintings in which lush vegetation envelops you so much that you can feel the humidity!

Tuan Vu has always been inspired by his dreams. During a solo performance at Livart last year, he explained that he had such intense nightmares as a child that when he woke up, he drew the monsters that inhabited them. This colorful exhibition, Hedonistic dreamstherefore adopting a supposed oneirism, the artist here and there joins characters drawn from mythology or art history.


A garden of earthly delights, 2022, mixed media, 48in. x 96 in., two types.

The fantastic and allegorical universe of the Flemish artist Hieronimus Bosch (1450-1516) forms the basis of a large diptych. A garden of earthly delightsAdam and Eve, with an apple, vile serpent, fertile cranes, and allusions to wisdom, old age, sickness, and death.

We liked it Come back after swimming, offers a summer getaway with plenty of scenery with a touch of the Italian Riviera. A mix between Tuan Vu’s Asian roots and the western component. And once again a mythological touch with the boat and dark characters reminiscent of Charon and the passage of the Styx. The artist says: “Of course, the characters appear because of mistakes during the drawing. I research this more and more because these mistakes often contribute to the beauty of the work. »


Time passes with three silhouettes moving on the surface of the river, it evokes youth, adolescence and old age.

Several paintings by Tuan Vu also feature Odilon Redon, where the French symbolist painter’s hanging flower components are widely displayed at the Musée d’Orsay. Tuan Vu embodies much of this softness in his paintings and prefers the sound of nature, which aims to support biological diversity. “Luxury allows me to talk about our time when land is being destroyed everywhere, especially condos, urban sprawl,” he said. Vegetation is important to me. »

Tuan Vu’s inspirations include Caravaggio. The daffodil reflects itself in the water, lies in the heart of the rich vegetation. Botticelli with him Birth of Venus Tuan Vu reconstructs it, starting with the origin myth of the goddess of love, who was born from special parts of Uranus, cut off by her son Saturn and thrown into the sea. Wu evacuates the triviality of the subject and adds a touch of urgency. Job Flood at the rising of Venus actually causing climate change, water entering Venus’ crust and causing flooding.

Obviously, one cannot avoid insisting on the fact that the influence of Peter Doig, whose tropical touch has become his signature, is strongly felt in Tuan Vu’s painting. Tuan Vu is comfortable with this thematic pairing. “I like this artist,” he said. I’m totally inspired by him, I love his personality, I love his humility. »

  • Golden Fish Canopy, 2022, mixed media, 36 inches.  x 30 inches.


    Goldfish cover, 2022, mixed media, 36in. x 30 inches.

  • Three Small Works by Tuan Vu (24 inches x 20 inches)


    Three Small Works by Tuan Vu (24 inches x 20 inches)

  • Tuan Vu daffodil


    the Nargiz By Tuan Vu

  • Object of Desire, 2022, oil on canvas, 66 inches.  x 66 inches.


    Object of Desire, 2022, oil on canvas, 66in. x 66 inches.


Since his solo performance last year, Tuan Vu continues to experiment and that’s good. He no longer paints only with oil paints. He also uses India ink, distemper technique (tempera), adds acrylic or works side by side in successive layers, filigree or openwork.

“When I wear diapers, I think about what to keep or eliminate,” says Tuan Vu. It all depends on the shape, color and story. Sometimes forms like birds appear. Then I continue in this direction completely freely. When you look at the clouds in the sky and see a shape in them…”

Hedonistic dreamsBy Tuan Vu, at the gallery of the National Institute of Contemporary Art

Posted in Art

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