Exhibition: “outside and inside are both intimate”

Exhibition: “outside and inside are both intimate”

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Ngo Dinh Bao Chau, Uniform – Wallpaper no. 10, 2020
woodblock print, monoprint, stamping, stencil, acrylic, glitter, and gold leaf on cardboard, 60 x 80 cm

10 am – 07 pm, Tues – Sat 14 Aug – 03 Oct 2020
Galerie Quynh Contemporary Art
118 Nguyễn Văn Thủ, Dakao, District 1, HCM City

From the organizer:

Galerie Quynh is pleased to present Towards Realist Socialization – a solo exhibition by Ngo Dinh Bao Chau, curated by Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran. The show presents Ngo’s most ambitious work to date and marks the culmination of a five-year research project that examines the repetition of symbols and imagery, the intersection of public and private space, and their lasting effects on collective memory.

Towards Realist Socialization investigates how the public sphere bleeds into the private: how the concrete of monuments – and the beliefs they represent – filter into the home and manifest in our daily routines. Present in Ngo Dinh Bao Chau’s homespace, exuding an air of both familiarity and detachment, are the shadows of monuments and traces of slogans – the stowaway fragments of what otherwise exists in the public realm. Delving into the overlap between public and private spheres, her body of installation work – modelled after items of furniture – disturbs the dualism of the public outside and the private inside. Speaking to Gaston Bachelard’s observation in The Poetics of Space that “outside and inside are both intimate”, Towards Realist Socialization visualises interior and exterior worlds as intertwined and dependent spaces.

In bringing monuments into the home and crafting that home within a gallery, the works of Ngo Dinh Bao Chau scatter freely in a space that is both private and public, but that is also neither. As the artist gives form to that ambiguous space, she is also remembering: drawing from her memories of growing up in Vietnam, where the imposing grandeur of monuments become part of childhood routines and rituals. In Uniform – Wallpaper, again and again the silhouette of a schoolchild saluting the flag is woodblock-printed onto sheets of wallpaper – the salute being a laden act that is nevertheless as mundane as doing homework. Similarly in Closed eyes – Light, the resin artwork brings to mind “đèn ông sao” – star-shaped lanterns made from glassine covering a bamboo frame – flooding streets and parks during the Mid-Autumn Festival, though undeniably its undisguised shape alludes to the immense power of simple imagery. Yet despite our repeated exposure to slogans and banners and flagpoles and public sculpture, ubiquity in turn renders them invisible (but not in the sense that they cannot be seen). Rather, they become embedded in our subconscious, alter memory, and, for Ngo Dinh Bao Chau, fuel imagination.

The artworks on display are dense with detail. True to the fickle process of remembering, some details have become blurred and abstracted, while others are unknowing last-minute additions, and through endless repetition become more and more vivid. Towards Realist Socialization is a house of memories, but the materialisation of those memories reflects the present and has implications for the future. To visit the artworks in each of its rooms is as important as journeying through space and exploring what Bachelard calls the hallways of the mind – the recesses of our psyche that Ngo Dinh Bao Chau has laid out for all to inhabit.

About Ngô Đình Bảo Châu

From early on in her career, Ngo Dinh Bao Chau has worked with a wide range of materials, from sedge mats, steel, and concrete, to truc chi – paper made from the purées of bamboo, corn and duckweed. Her practice examines contemporary life in Vietnam; she repurposes objects and images in order to challenge the dualisms and tensions that exist in society. In her most recent work, Ngo Dinh Bao Chau appropriates the symbols which are part of a collective, cultural memory, and places them in an imagined homespace. Through her multimedia installations, the artist comments on the power of repetition, and explores the indistinction between public and private space.

Ngo Dinh Bao Chau (b. 1986, Dong Thap), since graduating from the Ho Chi Minh University of Fine Arts, has held various exhibitions within the region and abroad, including Silk of light, San Art Productions x Phuong My, Ho Chi Minh City; Block of Silence, SECC, Ho Chi Minh City; Where The Sea Remembers, The Mistake Room, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Bodies Survey(ed), San Art, Ho Chi Minh City; She, Sweet ‘Art, London, UK, travelled to Little Pink Monster Gallery, TX, USA; Body Bouquet, Welch School Galleries, Atlanta, GA, USA; Out of Nowhere, Sao La, Ho Chi Minh City; and My Eldest Sister, San Art, Ho Chi Minh City. In 2018 she was selected for the apexart Fellowship in New York, USA, and in 2010 undertook the 943 Studio arts residency in Kunming, China. In 2016 she received a grant from the Denmark–Vietnam Cultural Development and Exchange Fund for Open Room – an open studio event with artists Cam Xanh, Lap-Xuan N. Do, Kim Duy, and Dao Tung.

Ngo Dinh Bao Chau lives and works between Hue and Ho Chi Minh City.

About Galerie Quynh

Recognised as Vietnam’s leading contemporary art gallery, Galerie Quynh has been promoting contemporary art practice in the country for over two decades. The gallery is known internationally for its consistently focused programming and educational initiatives. Working with a select group of emerging, mid-career and established Vietnamese artists, the gallery also exhibits the work of distinguished artists from around the world. In keeping with its mission to develop a sustainable ecosystem for the arts in Vietnam, the gallery collaborates with artists, curators, museums and art spaces locally and internationally to organise talks and lectures as well as to produce publications in English and Vietnamese. In May 2014 the gallery founded the non-profit educational initiative Sao La. Currently spearheaded by Dalat-based artists Nguyen Kim To Lan and Nguyen Duc Dat, Sao La comprises a young, diverse group of passionate creatives working loosely as a collective.

A new chapter began in December 2017 when the gallery moved to a 600 square-meter space in Dakao, District 1. Spread over four floors, the gallery is able to produce more ambitious programming and play an even more vital role in the cultural community in Vietnam.


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