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Meet The Pioneering Queer Artist Who Opened Vietnam to Gay Culture

Written by Cristina Nualart


In the 1990s, the contemporary art scene was booming in Hanoi. New galleries opened, foreign art collectors took an interest in this relatively unknown country and, although censorship by a watchful regime did not disappear, Vietnamese artists gained some freedoms. Significant innovations included the appearance of performance art and of homosexual content in the artwork of Truong Tan, possibly the first openly gay Vietnamese visual artist.


Truong Tan’s first work showing homosexual content dates from 1992, when the painting Circus was displayed in a group show at the Hanoi Fine Arts University, where Tan was a lecturer. Truong Tan’s catalogue for his first solo exhibition in 1994 documents his tentative exploration of performance art and frequent use of ropes [see picture above]. The decision to show this work activated something in him. “My goal was set,” he said, explaining that he was ready to stop hiding his homosexuality and that he was determined to forge a career as a professional artist. It wasn’t easy, and for some time he kept his homoerotic drawings private. READ MORE

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