Tam Van Tran
American and Vietnamese, born 1966
Tam Van Tran blurs the boundaries between painting, drawing, and sculptural practices by merging traditional materials—such as canvas, paper, and paint—with decidedly less conventional ones—including algae, beet juice, eggshells, spirulina, and staples. His distinctive working methods result in hand-molded abstractions that resemble aerial maps when viewed from afar and are layered with nuances that reveal the artist’s hand. He begins by painting and drawing an image on paper that he then manipulates into a three-dimensional object by cutting, hole-punching, stapling, and other processes. Tran’s work is full of dualities—abstraction and representation, natural and manmade, terrestrial and otherworldly. Through his imagery the artist, who is a devout Buddhist, explores the complexity of our universe, aiming to reconcile East and West by pursuing meditative mindfulness and beauty alongside darker sensibilities of violence and aggression.
Label from Drawing: The Beginning of Everything, July 8–October 15, 2017