Selected by Sandra Safta Waterhouse

TOMAS VU, Utopian Station I, 2019


Our featured artwork this week is a dynamic mixed media piece by contemporary artist Tomas Vu, Utopian Station I. Multi-award winning and Guggenheim fellow, Vu is a well- accomplished artist known for his richly built surfaces and complex works delving into the psychologies of reality, memory, desire and uncertainty. His work presents a world that is askew, combining the illusion of space with the physicality of the surface. In the Utopian series, the artist utilizes a combination of cyanotype, laser cut wood veneer, silver vinyl and colored pencil to depict a symphony of forces in opposition — concealment and exposure, destruction and recovery, chaos and order, brutality and humaneness. A variety of media including natural history catalogues, botany encyclopedias, maps, Soviet space photographs, math textbooks, architectural blueprints, Arabic mosaics, newspaper clippings and more, lend themselves to the imagery in these works. These images are arranged according to a visual syntax akin to the dreamscapes of the Cosmos taken by a satellite, suggesting a moment when the Space is closer than ever and when man and machine begin to meld into one. Elements from nature in addition to architectural or industrial forms overlap and approach from all directions as though propelled by their own gravity. Strange shapes of meticulously engraved wood in various tones render impossible structures while seemingly giving birth to machines. Blooming with a dynamism edging on implosion, this series invites viewers to peer into this fantastical world and explore its intricate imagery, layering, and textures. 


Tomas Vu is a highly successful artist who was born in Saigon, Vietnam and moved with his family to El Paso, Texas at the age of ten. Vu received a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, and earned a Master of Fine Art from Yale University. Among the awards and fellowships Vu-Daniel have received are the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship award in 2001 and recently, the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in 2015. Vu currently lives and works in New York City.


He has had solo exhibitions in many countries including the USA, Japan, Italy, Vietnam, Colombia and China. In collaboration with the celebrated artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, Vu-Daniel had a solo exhibition at Vargas Museum, Manila, in the fall of 2017. Vu-Daniel has also participated in numerous group shows worldwide. He has been a professor at Columbia University School of the Arts since 1996, where he helped found the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. In 2000, he was appointed the LeRoy Neiman Professor of Visual Arts. Since its inception, Vu-Daniel has served as Director/Artistic Director of the Neiman Center. Vu-Daniel currently lives and works in New York City.


TOMAS VU (Vietnamese-American, b.1963)

Utopian Station I, 2019

Cyanotype, laser cut veneer, silver vinyl, color pencil on paper

20 3/8 x 18 in
51.75 x 45.72 cm


November 25, 2020