Antonius-Tín Bui Carves Spaces for Diverse Histories in Their Meticulous Paper Artworks

Kate Mothes, Colossal, April 12, 2023

Intricately cutting single sheets of paper by hand, Antonius-Tín Bui (previously) reveals intimate portraits of friends, family, and the diverse narratives that shape identity and community. The Vietnamese-American artist’s subjects are delineated by elaborate geometric and botanical patterns evocative of Southeast Asian decorative motifs and are often portrayed among clusters of traditional porcelain vases, some of which contain large voids as if a piece has broken off. Among the vessels and patterns, Bui details figures enmeshed in their surroundings as words and interiors tenderly acknowledge the queer Asian American and Pacific Islander community.


Bui describes their identity as “ever-glitching” queer, non-binary, and Vietnamese-American, and as a child of refugees who immigrated to New York, they are interested in the narratives of displaced communities, the enormity of transition and transformation, and false dichotomies in geography, culture, and gender. The artist was struck by the focus that cultural institutions place on vessels—and Asian ceramics, in general—in their collections, confronted by the way that many Western museums have historically erased Eastern cultural narratives, resulting in fragmented, siloed representation of an antiquated, overgeneralized Orientalist perspective of the past.


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