Vietnamese-American artist Antonius Bui highlights the flexible, evolving nature of identity and the value of community through a series of uncompromisingly loving portraits. Elaborate hand-cut plants and geometric motifs envelop and shape Bui’s motifs, which include selected and physical family members, friends and colleagues. Painted a deep blue or tinted in smaller spots to give off a warm glow, the pieces are monumental in size – some stretching over ten feet – and saturated with underlying stories revealed through smaller portraits and depictions of domestic life that are embedded in the central image.
Continuously focused on the power of narrative, Bui leaves gaps in the metaphorical, web-like work to make room for a more nuanced understanding of the Asian-American and Pacific islander communities, immigrant experiences, queerness, and the prevalence of false binaries. As the child of Vietnamese refugees, they draw on the legacy of their family with “allusions to the spiritual meaning of the joss paper, an incense paper that is used both to imitate values and as a form of blessing and depicts every work almost as an offering in honor “. queer communities “, an explanation says about the portraits.
All works shown here are part of The detour is to be where we arewhich can be seen until August 14th Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. You can find more intimate pieces by Bui at her side and Instagram.
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