Binh Pho

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Binh Pho
Born September 19, 1955
Saigon, Vietnam
Died August 23, 2017
Education DeVry University, Kansas City, MO
Occupation Artist in wood

Binh Pho (September 19, 1955 – August 23, 2017)[1] was a Vietnamese-American artist best known for his pierced and painted works in wood.[2]

Early life[edit]

Binh Pho grew up in Saigon during the Vietnam War. His childhood memories are for the most part pleasant, though he remembers the horrors of the Tet Offensive and other fearful moments.[3] When the “Red Peace” descended upon the land in 1975, he refused to accept Communism. He tried to escape but was captured and sent to a reeducation camp for a year. After three more attempts he finally made his escape in 1978 as one of the boat people.[4] The journey from his childhood in Vietnam to life as an artist in the United States is one of struggle and perseverance, yet he views it as a philosophical acceptance of destiny through the lens of the happiness and success he found in the United States.[5] Binh Pho arrived in the United States on May 7, 1979, and initially focused on higher education, receiving a bachelor's degree in electronics in 1982.[6] He became a United States citizen 1984.[7] An early breakthrough in Pho’s work was meeting the Canadian woodturner, Frank Sudol, at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Sudol’s piercing and airbrushing techniques opened a new world of self-expression for Pho. He combined the techniques with lessons learned from other woodturners; the use of color as employed by Giles Gilson and Michael Hosaluk, a sense of continuity learned from Michael Mode, and the use of metal leaf in the work of furniture maker David Marks. He’s also influenced by 20th century Surrealist painters and sculptors, notably Salvador Dali and Mihail Chemiakin.[8]

Career[edit]

Binh Pho began selling his work in 1995, quickly gaining the attention of art collectors and devoted increasing time to his work.[9] For much of his career, the work was autobiographical in nature, sharing the story of his life in Vietnam and pursuit of freedom in the United States.[10] In 2006, the book River of Destiny: The Life and Work of Binh Pho was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Long Beach Museum of Art in California. In the book, curator and author Kevin Wallace, shared Binh Pho’s life story, Vietnamese history and philosophy.[11]

Technique[edit]

For Pho, part of the attraction of working with wood is the poetic similarity he sees between trees and human beings and he approaches the material with reverence.[12] A love of color, Eastern imagery and modern art are obvious in his pieces.[13] After turning a vessel and carefully preparing its surface, Pho sketches the layout of the decoration, utilizing a principle of Chinese landscape painting, in which the eye is drawn into a vast landscape by the inclusion of a temple or cottage. He uses an airbrush to apply paint to the surface. He then employs ultraspeed drills to etch and pierce sections of the vessel. The piercing creates negative space that contrasts with the wood that remains and patterns that mimic natural phenomena.[14] Binh Pho is particularly known for his use of form, instinctively designing works that utilize ratios that are very close to the theoretical “golden section” that can be seen in works dating back through antiquity.[15] As the artist’s work progressed, he moved beyond vessel making to create monumental sculptures and wall pieces.[16] Binh Pho is a highly sought-after demonstrator and lecturer.[17]

Permanent Collections[edit]

  • Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC
  • Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
  • Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA
  • University of Michigan Fine Art Museum, Ann Arbor MI
  • Museum of Art and Design, New York NY
  • Long Beach Fine Art Museum, Long Beach CA
  • Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile AL
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit MI
  • Figge Museum of Art, Davenport IA
  • White House Collection, Washington DC
  • Wood Turning Center, Philadelphia, PA
  • Arrowmont School of Art and Craft, Gatlinburg TN
  • Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg PA
  • Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte NC
  • Fuller Craft Art Museum, Brockton MA
  • Musee Art du bois – Breville, France

Shadow of The Turning[edit]

In 2012, Binh Pho again collaborated with Kevin Wallace on Shadow of The Turning, referred to by art critic David M. Fry as “a visual and literary amalgam that was audacious in almost every way”.[18] The book and museum exhibition was an exploration of art, myth and philosophy, drawing upon diverse genres and media to bring the viewer into a fascinating literary adventure.[19] With the jointly imagined work of fiction, Binh used the elaborate tale to frame a new body of work. In essence, the art became illustration for the story.[20] The exhibition sought to create a bridge between literature, art world approaches to concept and narrative and craft traditions. The story was “illustrated” with works that combined woodturning, sculpture, painting and art glass. As the storyline explored collaboration, a diverse group of international artists were brought together to collaborate on works of art that celebrate traditional craft materials and processes to redefine the boundaries of contemporary art.[21] The structure of the exhibition and its individual works suggested the enduring importance of architecture to Pho, who studied the subject in college in Vietnam.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Binh Pho: Honoring his Life and Legacy
  2. ^ River of Destiny: The Life & Work of Binh Pho, Fine Arts Press, 2006
  3. ^ New Masters of Woodturning: Expanding the Boundaries of Wood Art, by Terry Martin and Kevin Wallace, Fox Chapel Publishing, 2008
  4. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  5. ^ New Masters of Woodturning: Expanding the Boundaries of Wood Art, by Terry Martin and Kevin Wallace, Fox Chapel Publishing, 2008
  6. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  7. ^ River of Destiny: The Life & Work of Binh Pho, Fine Arts Press, 2006
  8. ^ New Masters of Woodturning: Expanding the Boundaries of Wood Art, by Terry Martin and Kevin Wallace, Fox Chapel Publishing, 2008
  9. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  10. ^ River of Destiny: The Life & Work of Binh Pho, Fine Arts Press, 2006
  11. ^ Binh Pho: Shadow of The Turning, American Art Collector, December 2014
  12. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  13. ^ New Masters of Woodturning: Expanding the Boundaries of Wood Art, by Terry Martin and Kevin Wallace, Fox Chapel Publishing, 2008
  14. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  15. ^ Geometry of the Golden Section, Robert Vincent, translated by A. Mequin. Chalagam Publishing (France), 2003
  16. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  17. ^ Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  18. ^ Binh Pho at the Mobile Museum of Art by David M. Fry, American Woodturner, February, 2014
  19. ^ Binh Pho: Shadow of The Turning, American Art Collector, December 2014
  20. ^ Binh Pho at the Mobile Museum of Art by David M. Fry, American Woodturner, February, 2014
  21. ^ Binh Pho: Shadow of The Turning, American Art Collector, December 2014
  22. ^ Binh Pho at the Mobile Museum of Art by David M. Fry, American Woodturner, February, 2014
  • Binh Pho at the Mobile Museum of Art by David M. Fry, American Woodturner, February 2014
  • Attractive Opposites by Stephen Henkin, The World & I, a Publication of The Washington Times, June 2003
  • New Masters of Woodturning: Expanding the Boundaries of Wood Art, by Terry Martin and Kevin Wallace, Fox Chapel Publishing, 2008
  • Woodturning Magazine, Eastern Promise by Iona Elliot
  • River of Destiny: The Life & Work of Binh Pho, Fine Arts Press, 2006
  • Geometry of the Golden Section, Robert Vincent, translated by A. Mequin. Chalagam Publishing (France), 2003
  • Binh Pho: Shadow of The Turning, American Art Collector, December 2014