In Leaves Don't Thank the Sun, Vu-Dunn’s first solo exhibition with SARDINE, the artist focuses on the vulnerable side of masculinity. Working from memory and purely imagined scenarios, Vu-Dunn’s subjects inhabit a world wavering between reality and fantasy; one in which men are allowed to be soft and unguarded.
Doubled in puddles or an eyeglass lens, the young men that lounge, pose, and embrace are surrounded by images of themselves, both subject and object of a carefree erotic gaze. Translucent dressing screens are erected but left open, underwear slips down half pulled on and seemingly forgotten, and platform shoes lay in what remains of a carelessly spilled drink. A broken pair of glasses is lifted for a second look at the man who basks cat-like in a luminous square of city night-light. Caught stripping down or in the middle of a weekend dress-up, the usual power dynamic of viewer and viewed is challenged by the figures' confidently jaunty stances, and their desire to be seen.
The works on view are painted and carved reliefs, each composition using layered surface color and volume to build a sense of space. Illusions in the painted surfaces are sometimes reinforced, and sometimes subverted by the physical form upon which the two dimensional images are drawn and painted.
The artist’s pleasure in making is obvious and echoes his subject’s pleasure in each other. The theatrical light that structures each composition breaks in geometric planes around the artist’s subjects and serves to enhance the expectancy of the figures. Although they are deeply absorbed in themselves and each other, they are aware of and pleased by the viewer's presence.