Brian Vu

Artist Statement

My interdisciplinary ceramic and performance work addresses the coexistence of the semi-permanent and the ephemeral. It addresses the improvisation of memory with the mundane and domestic. I work across a wide variety of disciplines such as but not limited to: ceramic sculpture, dance performance, painting, and installation to address the associations that are made with such mentioned disciplines. Minimalism, color, composition, and taking up large volumes of space are tools that I use to frame my work. Formalism is the forefront in the wry expression of my work; syntax over diction.

I believe the discussion of Minimalism sometimes runs in adjacent lines with design, though the two are not the same. Contemporary and Modern design borrows the languages of Minimalism but they do no equate to one another. I work consciously through the lens of Minimalism and not design by simplifying form and composition and adjusting how much is too little or too much based on factors such as: values of color, size, and shape. How I perceive Minimalism coincides with the Japanese concept of Ma. Ma being the physicality and mindfulness of emptiness, a pause, silence, and an interval for potential. These ideas intend how I see my forms: open, simple, and geometric matter. Integrating color theory, I then use color to amplify these “simple” objects by contrasting and complementing to further the complexities in my compositions. These concepts contextualize my work that leans towards a mindful, sterile anti-narrative. So “what you see, is what you get.” -Frank Stella

“Simplicity is not an end in art, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself, in approaching the real sense of things.” -Constantin Brâncuși

I keep in mind Plato’s Theory of Forms while making work. This refers to the ideals or attempts at creating a perfect object but can never be physical. Any attempt to create a certain object will always fail towards its perfection because every individual has an ideal of a certain object; it is a derivative. To put simply: a cup is a cup but it is not the absolute cup.

Over the past ten years, I have been moving constantly with the functional ceramics that I have accumulated. Each place I have lived in (the living, dining, and bedrooms) are places that I found respite for myself. These pauses (for meals, conversations, coffee, sleep, and reading) become a place to reflect. My plates, bowls, and cups maintained their importance to me as a ceramist. Dinnerware leaves a circular stain on the dining table: they are picked up and placed down on the same space again, and again. It is both intentional and involuntary. It is a consistent improvisation; repeating learned, improving mundane daily tasks towards an unconscious efficiency and intended function. I am interested in creating and utilizing props or stand-ins that reference the domestic household and the daily functions that we perform within those spaces that become emotionless yet still essential.

My developing concepts reference the formal languages of painting and domestic household objects and how we approach them through the norms of the social-political and bodily mnemonic. Objects, such as: ceramic ware, doors, tables, mirrors, carpets, bed frames, are objects that interest me in their mundane functions. Over time, these objects change from their intended functions or become functionless and sterile. Domestic references become more abstract and analogous to each other, minimal, effectively queering the languages. Ceramic looks like steel or latex looks like ceramic. I aim to render them all with equal importance (anti-materialistic while using those same materials). I continue to find complexity through creating new compositions and more derivatives even though they might operate with: meaningless, ridiculous, and imagined functions. I aim to take away their initial references and render my objects both formally and wryly, sterile. A kind of sterility from my work comes from taking the work formally and understanding and reacting to the status quo of reading contemporary artwork that arrives at new intersectional conversations.

How do we approach these objects with our conditioned, understanding of domestic spaces and functional objects through the mindful lens of Formalism? How is queerness found within the existing functions of familiar objects? What are the expectations (or lack thereof) placed on these works? What becomes the formal reading of these works? I want to concisely develop work that can address the culmination of all my experiences of different domestic spaces with a formal interdisciplinary approach. These are some of the many questions that I continue to explore in my work in addition to the intersection of: philosophical, theoretical, and psychoanalytical.

-- Brian Vu


Brian Vu is an interdisciplinary artist born in Dallas, TX. Brian holds an MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA in ceramics and contemporary dance from Bennington College. Brian has exhibited group and solo shows nationally in United States at: David Salkin Creative in Chicago, IL, G1 Exhibition Space in Pittsburg, PA, USDAN Gallery at Bennington College in Bennington, VT, Locust Projects in Miami, FL, BSWING in Minneapolis, MN, Cranbrook Art Museum in Detroit, MI, and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, TX. Brian has been awarded fellowships and completed residencies from: Locust Projects, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency, Woodbury Foundation Residency for Bennington College Alumni, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.