* "One Planet" at Galerie Quynh
PRESS RELEASE January 13, 2013 by Galerie Quynh
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Galerie Quynh is pleased to present One Planet, an exhibition featuring new work by Nguyen Manh Hung – one of Vietnam’s most important young artists. One Planet is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City. A multi-disciplinary artist widely known for his paintings depicting military fighter jet aircraft, Nguyen will present new sculptural installations in this major exhibition that expands on his previous two dimensional work. Born and raised in one of the Soviet-style apartment blocks that characterized Hanoi’s urban housing from the 1960s to the 1980s, the artist likens this manner of vertical living to that of a complex, closely-knit ‘village’. Yet the experience of community living inevitably bears witness to conflicts, a proposition that is explored in The Barricade. Here, the artist has created an expansive vertical village, inclusive of exterior fixtures and illegal add-ons and adornments. On top of this nearly two-meter high installation, sandbags are piled as an improvised field fortification, waging an urban warfare, and turning each apartment into a fort unto itself. Nguyen reflects on the idea of community, the conflicts that exist within and without constructed societies, and the complexities of civic development and individual responsibility. How is a community defined? Is the traditional idea of community just hollow rhetoric or an ideal that can evolve and adapt to modern day Vietnam? Nguyen confronts these issues with his trademark irony and humor highlighting the oftentimes absurdity of human behavior and endeavor. Nguyen’s work is inspired by his direct experiences and observations of Vietnamese life. In Going to Market, a jet plane hurtles through the ground floor gallery, transformed from a high-tech war machine to a scaled-down and meticulously constructed sculpture, at once playful and harmless. Betraying the artist’s long-held fascination with militaristic images – his father was a fighter jet pilot – the surreal scene of a fighter plane carrying nylon bags laden with shopping goods humorously morphs a symbol of destruction with conduits of hope, benevolence and joy.
In Keep our Planet Clean, a rock-like object supports unidentifiable riot police shown restraining and beating a pig against the ground. The apparent and ridiculous brutality, the overt oppression and the work’s title combine to denounce violence rather definitively. Given the widespread occurrence since 2011 of mass public demonstrations worldwide and the forces unleashed to quell such activities, the universality of the work’s message resonates well beyond the confines of national or geographical boundaries. One Planet is generously supported by the Danish Embassy in Hanoi’s Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF).