A2Z Art Gallery is pleased to present The Crossing, Bao Vuong's first solo exhibition at the gallery in Paris.
'My whole family survived. We didn't know how we could survive when traveling at sea. I was only one year old at the time.'
Like thousands of other Vietnamese who have been forced to flee a divided, war-torn country, Bao Vuong and his family are caught in an unknown situation. Embarking from the banks of the Mekong River to cross the sea, many families pass through unsanitary refugee camps in places like Malaysia and the Philippines, until ended up in France as political refugees, for which they are also known as 'boat people'.
After obtaining his master's degree in Plastic Arts at the Beaux-Arts de Toulon, Bao Vuong, many years after having crossed the oceans, decided to return to Vietnam in 2013. In order to dig up the memory in the forgotten wound of his past, the pictorial series 'The Crossing' comes to life in the country where he was born.
After 25 years of exile, Bao Vuong has lost concrete memories of the difficult times spent on the sea or in refugee camps. However, this collective trauma has taken root within him tenaciously. The boats sail with the winds and tides. The people 'without landmark' come up against the darkness, their emotions and uncertainties. Living with the agony of impending death, and the endless night at sea exacerbates distress the minds and bodies of those 'landless' people who have just lost everything.
Today, the artist pours this sedimented emotional memory into black monochrome paintings by applying a large amount of paint with a palette knife. Unlike Pierre Soulages's 'Outrenoirs', which reveals black paintings without words; released from all figurative and representative forms. The works reflect the faint light on the dynamic waves, sky and shore; which trigger the survival instinct of those in distress beneath Bao Vuong's painting.
Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, The Crossing allows everyone to observe, live and experience the contemplation of the "light in the darkness" appropriately. Between presence and absence, softness and roughness, imagination closely intertwines with interpretation, leaving us to confront ourselves and our own past. In the distance, the hope of a better future emerges.
A. & A.
Press release courtesy A2Z Art Gallery.