PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The La Salle University Art Museum
presents the exhibition Howard Tran: Drawings and Sculpture, on-view September 19November 29, 2012. Opening reception on September 19, 2012, from 5 to 7 p.m. Artists Talk, Olney Hall Room 100, November 29, 12:30-1:15 p.m. The exhibition and all programs and events are free and open to the public.
This exhibition primarily features Trans two-dimensional work. A sculptor by training, Tran also works extensively in two-dimensional media. For Tran, working on a flat surface offers a different way of approaching the art-making process. While his sculptures are always figurative, his drawings are more abstract. When Tran begins a sculpture, he already knows how it will look. It has all been planned and decided. Working with acrylic and ink on a flat surface, however, forces him to instead think fast as he works. For Tran, sculpture has a more direct relationship to the Earth; two-dimensional work is more out there, approaching the unknown. It is this quality of the unknown both in the process of making and in the subject-matter that the artist appreciates.
While his 3-D work is confined by representation, certain motifs in Trans drawings exert their own version of confinement as well. One repeating form is the bean shape, which also morphs into a barbell-like shape in some compositions. Although it changes size, color, and density throughout the series, the artist describes it as having trouble becoming fluid. In the 2-D work, as with sculpture, Tran is interested in texture. In the drawings, sanding imparts an almost encaustic-looking layering of color and form. Tran sometimes also glues or transfers Buddhist offering papers onto the surface adding an element of collage. In his larger-format drawings, Tran incorporates paper pulp, creating a raised surface that makes the work more like a hybrid of flat drawing and relief sculpture. For Tran there is a dichotomy between the calm of the paper pulp and the chaos of the paint. He states that the layering relates to past, present, and future. In his art, he negotiates issues of identity related to his Chinese-Vietnamese and Buddhist heritage and his experience as an American.
Tran is an Assistant Professor of Art at Lycoming College and exhibits nationally. He earned his MFA in sculpture from Boston University and BFA at the Sculpture Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA.