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By its very nature, “sculpture” often suggests “mass”… if only in the weight of its material - be it ronze, marble or stone. To experience the bronze figurative sculpture of Vietnamese artist, Tuan, however, is to experience the defiance of the nature of bronze sculpture. Tuan glorifies the beauty of the human form with masterful precision. However, the true uniqueness of his style is not in the physical expression of human beauty, but in his ability to infuse physical “mass” with an almost divine sense of weightlessness.

Tuan’s artwork radiates peacefulness and serenity through graceful lines and rhythmic compositions so that while glorifying the human body, he at the same time glorifies the human spirit, exalting the exhilarating experience of life. Tuan infuses his sculpture with a celestial beauty that carries his human forms beyond earthly existence and into the realm of the heavenly in a quiet celebration of life. Though cast in bronze, his forms appear to be magically suspended like angels on the wing.

The serenity and celebration reflected in his work comes in striking contradiction to Tuan’s own past. Born in Vietnam in 1963, Tuan experienced the fall of Saigon in 1975, survived a failed escape attempt from his native land in 1988, witnessed the death of his closed friend in the same escape attempt, and was then cast into a concentration camp. Almost miraculously, he escaped the camp and fled to the U.S. where he became captivated with sculpting. In 1995, Tuan received his fine art degree from the Art Institute of Southern California in Laguna Beach, CA.

Tuan’s sculptures “Triumph” and the Marquette of the Viet Nam Memorial are in the permanent collection of the White House in Washington, D. C. His work is also represented in the permanent collections of the Pasadena Museum of Art, The California Art Club and the MOCA Museum. Tuan received the Gloria Medal from the National Sculpture Society of New York, a medal designed by C. Paul Jennewein and bestowed upon a young artist in Jennewein’s memory for a meritorious body of work as determined by the luminary board of the Society. Tuan won the “Gold Medal Award for Sculpture” from the California Art Club in 2006. His work has been exhibited throughout Southern California including the Bowers and the Pasadena Art Museums,

Tuan has been commissioned for a number of public and private works, including a memorial bust for the Nicole Brown Simpson Charitable Foundation in 1997. Tuan has recently completed the first 15-foot Vietnam War memorial monument for the City of Westminster, California commemorating the partnership between American and Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War.


"As you read about the dramatic story of Tuan, you will probably visualize the outline of a novel or, perhaps, a feature film. Surely, you will gain insight into this artist’s passion for love and peacefulness, the core emotions driving his artistic efforts. And undoubtedly, you will also discern the forces that endowed Tuan with the sculptural genius to create masterpieces of figurative expression!" Daniel Winn CEO, Masterpiece Publishing

Most of us could not imagine the experiences crowded into this sculptor Tuan’s life. It started in 1963 when Tuan was born into one of the wealthiest families in all of Vietnam - royalty, in fact…

Tuan enjoyed a youth of enviable security. Surrounded by a large extended family and catered to by multiple servants, Tuan grew up in the glow of love. Even though the war grew along with him, Tuan’s life was far removed, in both distance and mind. Instead, largely because of the well known success of his father, an architect, Tuan was able to attend a prestigious private school, become a consummate tennis player, and play freely, insulated from the terror ravaging his country.

In 1975, however, all that changed. Tuan’s father was removed to a forced labor camp to be “re-educated “ by the communists. The compound upon which Tuan so peacefully had lived his first twelve years was suddenly confiscated. After a while, his father returned but was compelled to stay at home. This turned out to be a major factor for Tuan since his father began to intensely sculpt, a longtime passion. Always able to draw, Tuan now paid increasing interest to sculpture . He frequently worked alongside his father. After a time they clashed however - Tuan rebelling against his father’s rigid approach to the medium and his father frustrated over Tuan’s refusal (or inability) to be “disciplined” in his approach.

His father’s fame seemed to form a protective umbrella around the family for a while and they were generally left alone by the authorities. Nevertheless, Tuan needed the freedom he had known. He started to hide in the woods when the authorities came to check on him and his family. He inevitably became scared, however, and returned home. Then, in 1986, he made a momentous decision…to escape by boat down the river. But events would not allow his plans to materialize – his coterie was discovered while en route; Shots were fired, and Tuan was arrested.

As punishment, Tuan was kept in the harshest of prisons. For 6 months he was held in a windowless room, packed so tight with inmates that sleeping could only be accomplished shoulder to shoulder. In this setting, his sculpting skills were called upon to save him from an even worse existence. Tuan was questioned as to what he did for a living. The only answer Tuan had was that he could sculpt. Nobody in prison knew what “sculpture” was. Fortunately, the floor was made of clay and, when mixed with water, Tuan was able to create a portrait of one of the prisoners. He became an instant celebrity, sculpting for families of captors and captives alike! In 1988, after a year of captivity, Tuan was freed and returned to his parents.

He was not to stay with them long. More mature and experienced, Tuan made contact with the underground and endured a harrowing 2-month walk through the jungles of Southeast Asia to Cambodia. He and his group were repeatedly chased by the authorities but always managed to elude them until they made it to a waiting boat to Thailand. Out of danger at last, Tuan now faced months of dreary living in refugee camps in Thailand and then the Philippines where he learned English. While in the Philippines, his life brightened when he had his first sculpture show featuring figures of escaping Vietnamese. Once again, he became a celebrity!

Finally, arriving in San Francisco in 1989, Tuan was truly free and, with an excitement that permeates his daily activities even today, he endeavored to undertake his life’s work and passion…sculpting.

Recognition for the young artist followed quickly: In 1990, Tuan was the recipient of the Gloria Medal from the National Sculpture Society (New York), an award bestowed upon a young artist for a “meritorious body of work”; He has been commissioned for a number of public and private works, including a memorial bust for the Nicole Brown Simpson Charitable Foundation and, most recently, a 15-foot monument for the City of Westminster commemorating the partnership between American and Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam war.

Today, Tuan “works” 7 days a week in his studio. Both his parents escaped to the US and live in Southern California with him. He and his father still spar over the sculptural process today.