Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Tuan Vu: Elysium

Within a series of tropical gardens rendered in warm tones of pink and yellow with touches of luminescent blue and green appear the undulating silhouettes of women, shielding beneath umbrellas,…

Exhibitions

Event Details

Category

Exhibitions

Event Starts

Mar 14, 2024

Event Ends

Apr 13, 2024

Venue

Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Location

533 Old York Road, London

Within a series of tropical gardens rendered in warm tones of pink and yellow with touches of luminescent blue and green appear the undulating silhouettes of women, shielding beneath umbrellas, wrapped in kimonos, lounging in the foliage, balancing precariously on one leg. These are the paradisal visions of Tuan Vu whose work follows in the tradition of the Parisian artist group Les Nabis to explore the ways in which colour can convey emotions and symbolic narratives. Presenting all new works, Elysium, Vu’s first solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, invites viewers to lose themselves in a mystical world where anything is possible.
 
Born in Vietnam and currently based in Quebec, Vu’s work weaves together a wide range of influences: from the tropical landscapes of his home country to the sun-bleached palette of the South of France, from the bold experimental paintings of the Nabis to the broad, flattened planes of Japanese prints. He begins by collecting source imagery that speaks to a particular atmosphere or story that he’s trying to create. Rather than printing these images out, however, Vu prefers to contemplate them for a brief period before sketching, often directly on to the canvas with paint, and seeing what emerges through the gradual layering of colour. We see this process in works such as Sieste à l’étang (Nap by the pond) where subtly different tones of yellow and orange create an almost hazy effect through which it’s possible to glimpse the vague outline of palm leaves in the background. Meanwhile, in the foreground increasingly bolder colours and harder lines delineate the figure of a woman lying on a chaise lounge, beneath a tree sprouting exotic looking flowers or fruits and beside a pool of water filled with lily pads. To the left hand corner of the painting, by an orange vase, another figure, barely visible at a first glance, gazes back at her. A mirror image? The shadowy version of another self?
 
The non-naturalistic colours in Vu’s paintings are typical of the Nabis style, but they also enhance the dreamlike quality of the compositions. Wet Red Kimono, for instance, transports us into a garden defined by electrifying shades of blue and turquoise, conjuring the impression of moonlight and phosphorescence. Here, in this shimmering, nocturnal world we meet a woman bent over a pool of water washing her hair, surrounded by two statues of women standing on one leg. This one-legged woman is a recurring figure throughout the series, often, as in this painting, appearing multiple times on one surface but from different angles. She is based on a statue of a dancer by Degas and has become something of a muse for Vu, encapsulating, in her awkward elegance, what he describes as ‘the beauty of imperfection.’
For more information, visit Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery