Thai Tuan, Nguyen b.1965 / Black Painting No. 40 (1955)
about this work
In the monograph on Nguyen Thai Tuan, the Italian art critic Demetrio Paparoni states:

“Against the backdrop of Nguyen Thai Tuan’s Paintings there is always Vietnam, with its symbolic places and its history. The stories in these pictures draw upon real events, news images and images of daily life that are normally filtered through photographs, newspapers, television or Internet. While always referring to historical events and real occurrences, the subject of his works is not the event as such, but rather its repercussions that generate the shadowy areas in the psyche of the individual while influencing that individual’s everyday life. Accordingly, Nguyen Thai Tuan’s interest is directed towards the behaviours and the existential dynamics of both those who induce these events and those who endure them. In remarking that current condition is the result of the sedimentation of historical events and happenings, Nguyen Thai Tuan intermingles the past and the present, rendering the painting a critical space in which his reflections take shape.”

For instance, Black Painting n. 40 (1955), critically refers to the Vietnam Land Reform of 1955. The 5-phase land reforms resulted in a bloodbath all over North Vietnam. Genuine information related to this event is extremely scarce and is almost impossible to establish a clear picture of this massacre. Because of techniques of falsification and censorship under Ho Chi Minh’s regime, the world was completely unaware of this catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands people, accused of being landlords, were summarily executed or sent to concentration camps for “rieducation”. 

Hoang Van Hoan – a former member of the Hanoi communist Politburo who fled the country in September 1979 – described the situation in that period:

“Unjust and false verdicts imposed on the victims were concealed and were never brought to light for verification. Those who had been erroneously classified and accused were never exonerated. Grievances against the Party accumulated during the reform campaign have taken root in everyone’s heart and have remained intense to this moment.”

In this painting the past permeates the present, till the point to superimpose on it, creating an emotional correspondence on the contemporary individual that has to fight for his individuality against an always unknown power.

Nguyen Thai Tuan (b.1965, Vietnam)

Black Painting No. 40 (1955), 2008

Oil on canvas
129.54 x 88.9 cm
51 x 35 in.
Primae Noctis, Lugano, Switzerland Current Location:
UK - London - G4Si PaintingSouth Asia


Asia Now Paris
Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris, France
October 2015 - 2015

Primae Noctis, Lugano, Switzerland
May 2015 - September 2015

Residual: Disrupted Choreographies
Carré d'Art - Nîmes Museum of Contemporary Art, France
February 2014 - April 2014


Primae Noctis, Nguyen Thai Tuan: Simulacrum
(Catalogue), May 2015

Demetrio Paparoni, Nguyen Thai Tuan: Black Painting & Heritage
Primae Noctis (Catalogue), December 2014 & March 2015

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