The birds of sculptor Thai Nhat Minh
Varying in odd and even abstract shapes, each of the 150 hand-crafted birds is unique in its posture.They are either made from wood sanded smooth, aluminum highly polished or painted weathered blue and pocked like old bronze. Some with similar characteristics are grouped together.
Is the artist familiar with the Dunbar number (1), a theory which proposes that a meaningful social network consists at most of 150 people? Then we might read the verticality of the perching structures and narrow, closely-set levels are like the spaces in a densely populated city; the city of Hanoi? The bird sculptures like a community, perhaps even his own community of family, friends and acquaintances. Perhaps they are involved in an intricate social exchange.
In a second space a virtual/ghost aviary where movement is captured and cleverly translated into long, flat, narrow pieces of bamboo flight-trails. The pared bamboo strips map a bird’s flight within the confines of a four-walled, stunningly white gallery. With nowhere to settle, the invisible bird traces complex/tangled/frantic maneuvers gathering in the center with more graceful curves expanding all the way out to the walls. The flight space could then be perceived as the area in which the artist’s thoughts must move and develop and become concrete, tracing the trails of his thought process.
Thai Nhat Minh presents a sculpture installation in two parts, set in two separate gallery rooms of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. One room contains three floor-to-ceiling bamboo structures on which are perched 150 wood and aluminum sculptures representing birds. Lit dramatically from above, the sculptures cast overlaying and intricate shadows onto the gallery floor and against the walls. The second room is filled by bamboo strips interconnected into an expansive bamboo structure. The sanded smooth strips also contrast with the rough-cut joints holding together the seemingly hastily painted and scratch-finished perch structures. The public space of the group dynamic and the individual space which can be honed and polished. Two separate networks.
Thai Nhat Minh Nhung Con Chim
Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi
April 21 -27, 2013
(1)Dunbar, Robin, Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, 1998