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Danh Vo 'Untitled' (2020)


Danh Vo
Pencil on paper, writing by Phung Vo
54 x 38 cm | 21 1/4 x 14 15/16 in.
43 x 59 x 4 cm | 16 15/16 x 23 1/4 x 1 9/16 in. (framed) 
Unlimited edition
Issued with a certificate of authenticity
Published by White Cube, 2020

Handwritten by Danh Vo’s father, Phung Vo, this edition represents the date of American Independence in Roman numerals and was produced to coincide with the artist’s memorable 2020 exhibition ‘Chicxulub’ at White Cube Bermondsey, London.

Through a body of work drawing on his own personal history and also inspired by historical and political events, Vo probes into the inheritance and construction of cultural conflicts, traumas and values. Highlighting the inseparable relationship between a global political event and a private narrative, Untitled frames a watershed moment in American history against Vo’s father’s individual skill as a calligrapher.

The Roman lettering was designed by Hermann Zapf who, relieved of his duties in World War II, developed a career in typeface design. Phung Vo similarly developed an interest in the pictorial aspects of text after he was exempted from military service. Instead of fighting during the Vietnamese war with Cambodia and China (1978–89), he gained experience in calligraphy. Applying his skills to a now popular typeface known as ‘Optima’, Phung Vo underwrites the monumental date with a gesture that speaks to wider histories of displacement. 

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