This month, Thavibu Gallery unveils “There Is No Box,” a series of oil paintings by Vietnamese artist Bui Thanh Tam. By any definition, Vietnam ranks as a conservative culture that, like many others in Southeast Asia, is changing rapidly. Tam’s paintings examine the evolution of his home country’s society from a number of angles, each tackling different issues.
Female figures in the series often represent non-traditional values, totems through which the artist questions the role of women in Vietnamese society. He also shines light on chaos within Vietnam, and how it can be perceived, especially by youth. “This series was created with Vietnam in a transitional stage,” says the artist. “The communist regime is integrating into the wider world, and this sudden change, without orientation, makes the human psyche overwhelmed, confused, and disoriented.”
At the nexus of this transition is conflict — Eastern traditions coming into contact with Western influences, sometimes with harsh immediacy — a dynamic that factors large into the paintings.
“There Is No Box” runs from April 25 – May 23 at Thavibu Gallery.