HCMC – Exhibition “Then I Can Turn The World Upside Down”

HCMC – Exhibition “Then I Can Turn The World Upside Down”

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Artwork by Mai Hoang
Artwork by Mai Hoang

Exhibition: 15 Jun – 15 Aug 2017
Salon Saigon
6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Ward 7, District 3, HCMC

From the organizer:

You are invited to “Then I can turn the world upside down”, an exhibition of works on paper by five Vietnam-based contemporary artists. Each in their own subjective way, Le Hoang Bich Phuong, Mai Hoang, Nguyen Manh Hung, Florian Nguyen and Hoang Nam Viet explore the myriad possibilities inherent in the medium of drawing to create imaginary realities evoking the subconscious.

With their ink and paper, the artists create visions of hidden beauty and reinterpretations of the world, revealing quasi-hallucinatory perspectives on an otherwise too familiar landscape.

Nguyen Manh Hung reflects on Vietnam’s history and culture, with a particular penchant towards the comical contradictions that arise from the country’s rapid urbanization and modernization. His surreal scenes and depictions of an anachronistic everyday humorously merge a subtle critical outlook with benevolent messages of hope and joy.

Hoang Mai borrows from the aesthetics of Japanese manga and anime to create tableaux in ink and watercolour featuring unique portraits of a fantastic world. Oniric and uncanny, this parallel reality juxtaposes innocence and horror, life and death, with disjointed elements like missing parts of a body, or morphing the human and the natural.

Inspired by masters like Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, Florian Nguyen focuses on the processes of memorization and remembering. Shifting between memory and oblivion, his ink on paper works draw on dreams, legends and myths, rituals and language.

Le Hoang Bich Phuong’s works on paper blend familiar and distorted imagery of contrasting elements that normally do not belong together. The ‘unlikely combination’ of sexual organs and the natural or manmade environment create the perfect image for the artist to comment on and challenge the dogmas of contemporary society.

Hoang Nam Viet uses charcoal on paper to draw portraits of the hidden psychology of individuals. The artist is interested in revealing what hides inside the mind, his subjects staring across the paper with ghostly gazes and their souls spilling out through charred shadows and the white background.

The exhibition brings together the work of five artists that utilize the medium of drawing in diverse ways; whether more figurative or more abstract, more realistic or more fantastical, more representational or more introspective, their works on paper are proof of how drawing is versatile and spontaneous.

On paper, artists can express their ideas and emotions, and create a new, parallel reality, a window onto a new world that can inspire fresh perspectives and a renewed understanding of human nature and our environment – natural, social and political. Our world is in our hands; artists can challenge our beliefs, and visually spur our imagination to inspire us to live a better future. As F. Nietzsche once wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and them I can turn the world upside down.”

More about the artists

Raised and educated in Hanoi, Nguyen Manh Hung (b. 1976) is a multi-disciplinary artist working with painting, installation and sound art. His work reflects on the comical situations that arise from the rapid processes of urbanization and modernization that have been taking place in Vietnam for decades.

Florian Nguyen (b. 1988) lives and works between Paris and Ho Chi Minh City. He has recently had an exhibition at L’Espace in Hanoi, and has shown both in France and in Vietnam. In 2013 and 2014 he participated in the “The Erasable Billboard” by Paris advertising agency CLM BBDO touring Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, New York and Melbourne.

Hoang Nam Viet is a self-taught artist who works across a variety of media. His portraits, usually of familiar individuals like his friends and family, belie a deeper search for meaning in the everyday. A subtle commentary on Vietnam’s contemporary life, contemplations on the nature of freedom and a desire for change are trapped within the curious gazes of his subjects.

Hoang Mai is an illustrator and visual artist who cites amongst his inspirations Gustav Klimt, manga artist Taiyo Matsumoto and British scientist James Jeans’ mysterious world. Merging the good and the bad present in the world is for the artist a way to look at our reality with truth, and challenging our perspectives in order to create a better living experience.

Le Hoang Bich Phuong (b. 1984) is a visual artist based in Ho Chi Minh City. Working primarily with the traditional medium of silk painting, she creates tableaux inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e and contemporary comics. She explores ideas surrounding sexuality, nature, time, space and social awareness.

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