Tomas Vu

Born 1963 in Saigon, Vietnam.

Lives and works in New York City.


Tomas Vu received a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, and later earned an MFA from Yale University. He has been a professor at Columbia University School of the Arts since 1996 and was appointed the LeRoy Neiman Professor of Visual Arts in 2000. In 1996, Vu helped found the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. Since its inception, he has served as Director/Artistic Director of the Neiman Center. 


Vu transforms canvases into dazzling, fantastical landscapes. While some areas are covered in depictions of fauna, others reveal intimate fragments and swirling, bubble-like worlds painted in illusionistic fashion. Similarly, large swaths are intensely layered with an endlessly dense network of lines that have been silk-screened onto the surface, so complex that they form their own idiosyncratic geometry. Vu’s use of mechanical reproduction do not yield to issues of media and identity. Instead they evoke associations of algorithmic reiterative logic found in digital technology. Traces of his origin and personal memories can be found in his work, which depict the epic conflict between man and machine, nature and technology, illustrating his view of the decisive tension in our modern era. Layered open spaces, interpenetrating different dimensions: spaces come alive which blur the line between imagination and memory. Nuanced details and gigantic forms lead the viewer to fully immerse themselves in his transformative body of work.


In collaboration with Rirkrit Tiravanija as part of their series Green Go Home, Vu received a solo exhibition at Vargas Museum, Manila, in the fall of 2017. Vu is also the curator of the traveling group exhibition DRAW, which was inspired by the drawings of LeRoy Neiman and has since included over 100 artists. DRAW has had iterations in China, Serbia, and the US, and is headed to Berlin, North Carolina, and Cuba next.


Vu has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had solo museum shows in Japan, Italy, China, and Vietnam. He has had solo exhibitions at Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design (1998), Museum Haus Kusaya, Yokuska (2001), Centro Colombo Americano, Bogotá (2012) and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing (2015). 


Vu has received numerous awards including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship Award (2001),  Guggenheim Fellowship (2002), Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program (2015), Residency and Audience Award for Best Artist at the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts Ljubljana (2016), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Artist Award (2017), and the Arts/Industry Residency at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (2018). He lives and works in New York City.)