Danh Vo: Tropeaolum — Around

Conceptual Projects
3 min readApr 10


Danh Vo. Tropeaolum | Beyond the Storm. Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection

Last year I visited Art Basel and among all the interesting proposals and presentations, one of the stands that most caught my attention was that of Vitamin Space. I still remember seeing from the outside the impressive large wooden structure with numerous frames hanging from top to bottom. The whole installation looked like a forest where the leaves had been replaced by images. That was the first time I saw a solo presentation of the Vietnamese-Danish artist Danh Vo.

Until 24 April, the Pinault Collection is exhibiting his Tropeaolum in the Rotunda room at the Bourse de Commerce in Paris. Curated by Caroline Bourgeois, the work combines personal experiences with broader historical and cultural narratives through the human relationship with nature.

Danh Vo. Tropeaolum | Beyond the Storm. Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection

The Rotunda hall of the Bourse de Commerce has been transformed into a constructed forest where logs lie horizontally on the floor and wooden structures seem to hold up those trying to reach the monumental glass ceiling of the space. Photographs of flowers and natural elements hang scattered across the wooden structures, expanding Vo’s knowledge and perception of nature.

If one takes time to observe the different parts that constitute the Tropeaolum, one will discover that trunks have been treated in a specific way which contrast with how the timber is presented. The wood matches the frames of the photographs that blossom from the structures. From the beginning, the artist is in control of all the natural elements that make up the installation which have been grouped together and whose meaning has been reactivated.

Tropeaolum is directly linked to time. Throughout the room, numerous vestiges and fragments can be found, evoking a past that could have been avoided and now we witness its remaining ruins. This symbolic connection with the past gets reinforced by the space in which the Tropeaolum stands. The dome of the Rotunda is decorated with frescoes that reflect the colonial period and the particular expansionist worldview of the time.

Danh Vo. Tropeaolum | Beyond the Storm. Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection

At a very young age, Danh Vo and his family were forced to emigrate from Vietnam due to the Sino-Vietnamese war of 1979 and they settled as refugees in Denmark. Diaspora marked his life and career, and parts of the installation are proof of it. The wood used in the Tropeaolum comes from sustainable forests that are owned by the son of Robert McNamara, a former US Secretary of Defence that was indirectly responsible for the exile of Vo and his family. By reactivating and recontextualizing natural elements, Danh Vo faces his personal history associated with politics, colonialism and diaspora.

Tropeaolum is part of the exhibition Beyond the Storm at Bourse de Commerce until 24th April 2023. The exhibition is curated by Caroline Bourgeois.

Danh Vo: Tropeaolum | Beyond the Storm | Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, Paris. Until 24 April.

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Text by:

Juan Blasco — Founder & Curator of Conceptual Projects