Thank you to Shyevin S'ng and her dedicated team at Vin Gallery for their support this past week for the debut of the Prophilia series of watercolor portraits on metal at the VOLTA Art Fair in Basel. Of the 23 total portraits in the master series (including all works produced in order for Singapore, Manila and Basel), only 2 were sold in the premier exhibition at SPRMRT in January 2018, none were sold at Art Fair Philippines 2019. And then a miracle happened - we sold 14 of the exhibited 22 this week in Basel spanning six different collectors, including the 21C Museum in the United States that acquired seven!
In this extended series of paintings titled Prophilia, Ho Chi Minh City -based artist Richard Streitmatter-Tran looks to the mediated social world of profile images and considers their relation to the long tradition of portraiture painting. Using social media networks, he takes as profile images as initial references, now stripped of their meta information and contextual tagging in order to paint portraits that transform the subjects - and in many cases, returns an image of the final paintings to the original posters. Painting on an absorbent ground in watercolor and gouache on metal plates and woks, these ubiquitous items found throughout Vietnam often resembling reflecting mirrors. The artist searches for a connection between the immateriality of screen based lives with the material objects of everyday life. The title, Prophilia, is an invented word bringing together the words profile and -philia, the love of something
It is a career first time I've had any sales from an art fair. For years I've always returned from art fairs with my work in hand. I recall having discussions with colleagues who speculated whether figurative art or portraiture was a commercial dead end in Asia. We tried it in Europe and for some reason, it attracted interest, at least this time. I'm so excited and to be honest, I feel a bit validated for all the years I forced myself to return to the basics of figurative work and slowly improved my own sense and style of realism (in painting and sculpture). I intend to continue this series as well as embark on a number of new projects relating to my passion for contemporary figurative work.
Volta Basel 2019
June 10-15, 2019
with Vin Gallery, HCMC