My paintings are comprised entirely of intuitive gestures-- marks ranging from bold swipes to streaks created by the awkward movement of my wrist dragging across the surface. I use a multitude of colors which expand and contract along the surface. Organic shapes and vibrant fields of color create multiple layers which suggest a textured internal landscape. Within this landscape the figure is present--sometimes drawn into the painting and also eluded to with hard-edged, economized shapes. There is a cadence within the paintings that references a personal narrative that is also interlaced with a shared cultural history.

One component of the cultural history I reference revolves around the Vietnam War, specifically the tactics of biological warfare employed during that conflict. For nearly ten years, rainbow colored herbicides inundated the Vietnamese countryside--Agent Orange being the most widely known--causing the mass devastation of agriculture, killing and maiming thousands of people as well as leaving in its wake a legacy of generation upon generation of birth defects.

I am attempting to tackle a history that is larger than myself while also searching for identity through a dense abstract visual language. The process of painting is a meditation on understanding this history. As a first generation Vietnamese-American born to parents who immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War, I was raised not feeling fully American and also distant to Vietnam. My work responds to this cultural duality through the creation of ambiguous landscapes of the internal.

An ongoing interest is the history of the ethnography of the central Vietnamese people, the Montagnards, and their acts of resistance against the French Colonial occupation. In 1937, the Dieu Python Movement was a rebellion against French missionaries spurred by a village chief, Sam Bram, who claimed his daughter gave birth to a python. Sam Bram gave villagers magic water that he claimed made them invincible to French bullets. I use these ideas of mysticism and rebellion as a point of departure for my paintings.

The layers of my paintings continue to accumulate physically and conceptually. I rework surfaces, forever adding and taking away. The paintings are never finished, but merely bookmarks of moments that change over time. The work is about endless reconfiguration.
-Simon Tran aka ghost ghost teeth
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