Sotheby’s: Madonna by Boi Tran


Madonna” by Boi Tran

Boi Tran’s pictorial work presents profound originality: it is part of an isolated approach, removed from the dominant schools; it expresses the search for universal humanism deeply rooted in a characteristically Vietnamese sensitivity.


Front Page of Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings Catalogue, 6 October 2008
Back Page of Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings Catalogue, 6 October 2008

Boi Tran’s pictorial work presents profound originality: it is part of an isolated approach, removed from the dominant schools; it expresses the search for universal humanism deeply rooted in a characteristically Vietnamese sensitivity.

Boi Tran’s paintings and lacquers fit neither into the line of the School of Fine Arts in Hanoi nor into a hypothetical school of the South that might be named “the Gia Dinh school”.

Born in Hue, in central Vietnam, a city that suffered more than engendered the painful political events of the 20th century, the artist knew nothing of the influences – positive or negative – that nourished “the Schools”. Hers is a solitary body of work, freed from social contingencies, hierarchical obligations, and compromises, that was elaborated. 

And her approach inscribes itself in an exacerbated quest for humanism. From this doctrine, which holds as its finality the human being and his/her unfolding, Boi Tran extolled a quest for the absolute of which she was the medium: mourning, solitude, material hardship – which she was more than touched by – must be sublimated in order to be transcended. And going beyond reality must begin by outreaching oneself. However, the “self” must remain of the earth: the artist is not one of the damned but an actor of reality, he decorates the concept, as one sets the table of a feast.

Boi Tran’s Edenlike garden in Hue on the Thien An hill bears witness to this: diversity, and elegance, but for simplicity as well, a lotus or an epiphyllum, whose flower opens during the night before quickly vanishing, communicates this. The garden would not exist without Boi Tran, yet, Boi Tran the painter would not exist without the garden. Double elegance: the model is her subject. A student of the famous painter Nguyen Trung, whom she met in 1995, whose muse she became and for whom she remained a model, she transcended herself. A superficial study would reveal the great similarity of expression between the two artists, whereas, much more subtly, in Boi Tran’s creations the model – the object, in other words – transcends itself in as much as the object represented becomes its own subject: it leaves the painting, escapes from the painter and represents itself: the “self” becomes “me” and the transcendence is complete.

The work of Boi Tran brings us back to Nguyen Gia Thieu (1741-1798) and to his masterpiece, the “Cung Oan Ngam Khuc” (Sadness of the Palace).

“That the wind and the moon be our friends henceforth,
The river of Peacefulness, the torch of Wisdom,
Let us leave this world of dust with serene steps,
Living removed from things, that is being immortal here below”

Boi Tran and her work “Madonna“. Oil on canvas, 129.5 x 100 cm. (51 x 39 1/4 in.). Estimate HKD 40,000 – 60,000 (USD 5,200 – 7,700); Price Realised HKD 43,750 (USD 6,688) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong: Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian, 5 October 2008
Boi Tran and “Lady with Champa Flowers” by Nguyen Trung (Vietnamese, B. 1940), signed and dated ‘Ng.Trung 95‘ (lower right), lacquer on panel, 120 x 79.5cm (47¼ by 31¼ in.) in Boi Tran Garden Collection at Sotheby’s Hong Kong: Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian, 5 October 2008

You may also like

Ancient Mansions’ Rebirth

Hue becomes a poem capital in Vietnam thanks to its nature-blended architecture. In some aspects, the renaissance of pillar houses contributes to the reconstruction, preservation and protection of cityscape, cultural awareness and consciousness of this Imperial city.

Read More »

Ravenel: Select Modern & Contemporary Art, Vietnamese Modern Art

Boi Tran is one of the few outstanding Vietnamese female artists. Her style is heavily influenced by her teacher, Nguyen Trung and she also served as a source of creative inspiration for Nguyen Trung’s works. Tran’s Elegant in Hue trilogy is presented in a classical European triptych form. They depict

Read More »

Cultural Exchange: Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung, Deputy Secretary (Asia-Pacific), Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Ng Teck Hean and Painter Boi Tran

Boi Tran Garden is privileged to host a cultural exchange between Vietnam and Singapore. The dignitaries includes Mr Le Hoai Trung, Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Foreign Affairs; Mr Ng Teck Hean, Deputy Secretary (Asia-Pacific), Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr Nguyen Van Cao, Former Chairman of

Read More »

Heritage Magazine: Best of Both Worlds

Owning an exquisite garden around 5000m2 nestled on Thien An Hill where art researchers, scholars, specialists, and experts in Vietnam and other countries oftentimes pass by, Heritage is privileged to meet this talented artist Boi Tran – “A true heroine” of the ancient Hue in her own mansion.

Read More »

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Vivacious in Vietnam

Boi Tran is a painter and something of a throwback, an anomaly, a creature from another, earlier time in the life of the onetime Imperial City. She also cooks, magnificently from a repertoire of Imperial Hue-era dishes numbering over 100. She spoils all of us with a succession of dishes.

Read More »

Thanh Nien News: Complete Transcendence

“Mother and Children” fetched approximately USD 10,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong on May 26, 2013. Boi Tran is only the second Vietnamese female painter, the other being Le Thi Luu (1911 – 1988), selected by the two prestigious international auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

Read More »

DestinAsian Magazine: Hungry for Hue

Many of the old culinary traditions live on, and today, Hue cuisine is held to be Vietnam’s most delicious and diverse. A visit to Ancient Hue, a home restaurant and gallery of an eccentric, elegant artist and chef Boi Tran, gives visitors an inkling of what a royal banquet and

Read More »

Cultural Exchange: Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum, The Peranakan Museum Founding Director Dr Kenson Kwok “Thank you for beautifully nourishing our bodies and souls” and the Singapore Home Affairs Delegation at Boi Tran Garden

Boi Tran Garden is privileged to host a cultural exchange between the representatives of Singapore Home Affairs, The National Heritage Board Museum, Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum, the Peranakan Museum, the National Gallery Singapore, the Singapore Embassy to Vietnam and the Delegation from Singapore Government.

Read More »

Boi Tran, Ladies and Flowers by Nguyen Trong Tao

I stopped by Minh Chau Art Gallery not only to contemplate the masterpieces of leading artists such as Nguyen Phan Chanh, Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Nguyen Sang… or visit the young owner Minh Chau but to feast my eyes on her mother’s paintings displayed to the art lovers

Read More »

Timeout Magazine: The Divine Form

Minh Chau Art Gallery houses one of Hanoi’s more impressive and valuable collections of paintings of Nguyen Gia Tri, Tran Van Can, Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Sang, and a remarkable collection of Nguyen Trung’s paintings besides Trinh Cong Son, Dinh Cuong, Tran Huy Hoan, Tran Luu Hau, Diep Minh Chau,

Read More »