|By: Richard Hart
Implicit in the effort to create art and meaningful communication, Tomas Vu's genius incorporates his perception of the struggle between man and machine. Tomas Vu began life in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. His home was situated very near a military installation, and the beautiful Vietnamese beach.
As a youth, he was impressed with the American fighting force's fascination with surf and surfing culture. He has a very clever way to integrate his messaging and art utilizing his vision in the manufacture and preparation of surfboards and other artwork.
So even though his work portrays elements of machinery and anxiety and the complex relationship that man holds with his creation, he further extends the paradox by relying on Intel technology in the creation and reproduction of his art.
Tomas Vu-Daniel received a B.F.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso and an M.F.A. from Yale University. His work has recently been exhibited in "Orpheus Selection: In Search of Darkness" at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York; "Boston High Tea: Master Print Series" at the Sunshine Museum in Songzhuang, China; and "Organische Abstraction" at the Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Black Ice in New York, Flatlands I and Flatlands II in Milan and Rome, and Opium Dreams at the Museum Haus Kasuya in Yokuska, Japan.
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship award in 2001. He is currently the director of printmaking and artistic director of the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University School of the Arts.
Utilizing Intel technology in terms of computers and software, allowed to Tomas Vu the ability to transfer his work digitally from one media to another. His complex drawings and paintings were scanned, and re-created digitally these of the laser etchings on the surfboard - where he incorporates his drawn and painted art, and the mystical lyrics (of the Beatles) he associates with the formative years of his learning.
This synergy creates a very unique image and affect as it is perceived by his patrons and students. The Corporation Intel immediately saw the opportunity to portray Tomas Vu's success story as a way to relate the possibilities in the technology they create. Web video acts as the intermediary in this success story, and relays Tomas Vu's words and actions in a way that would be very difficult in written print alone.
Being a connoisseur of wooden surfboards myself, I was aware of Tomas Vu's work from his craftsmanship of handmade surfboards. His infusing his art through laser etching really powerfully embedded the boldness of his work to me and to many others I know.
At the LeRoy Neiman Center, from 2008-2009, Tomas Vu produced a serial body of work entitled Flatlands. Using layers of color and metallic silkscreen and laser engraved artist drawings burned into wood veneer paper, Vu juxtaposes the media of collage and screening to build fantastical scenes depicting cycles of destruction, decay and rebirth. The imagery extends the dialogue of nature's capacity for both violence and compassion. Flatlands as a series is formed into groups of ten unique prints in a single portfolio. It is also conceived of as a wall installation which can expand and contract to the dimensions of a given space. Each work is unique in the series and moves from light airy pieces built atop white grounds through silvery grey down onto a deeper black foundation. An overall installation of these works, on the grid, can either become a checkerboard effect of dark to light spaces within that grid or become a blend installation of works moving from dark to light.
Tomas Vu on His Work:
"My recent paintings and works on paper explore sites in which political narratives become entangled with religio-mythic and scientific versions of history and its ends. The work moves through visions of a world in which the crises of late capitalism and the historical drama of redemption are signaled by a traumatized physical environment."