Survival

A solo exhibition of paintings by Hanoi-based artist Nguyen Minh Nam

With his latest collection Survival, Nguyen Minh Nam continues to explore and develop his unique esthetic as he delves deeper into his particular fascinations, which include the female form, traditional architecture and, most prominently, the continuing evolution of the roles and mores of women in Vietnamese society and in its collective imagination. In choosing the title for the exhibition Nam says, “I mean to speak of things that were as well as things that remain, their influence and their very souls.”

Nam does not use a stereotypical cliché of a woman who is nothing more than an object. These women are thoughtful, observant, vulnerable, anxious, sad but also self-confident, provocative and seductive. The face as a store of emotions leaves Nam’s women more than mere seductresses or lovers. His women are emancipated beings who demand as a projection surface the dissociation with our own emotions as well as with present time.

Nguyen Minh Nam_Su Ton Tai Cua Nam Phuong Hoang Hau_Empress Nam Phuong_2018_Oil on canvas_160 x 120 cm

Nguyen Minh Nam reflects on cultural processes closely related to the intense observation of the course of his time. Vietnam has undergone amazing economic transformation in the last twenty years, manifesting itself in booming cities and burgeoning populations. A new generation has grown up without war, benefiting
from the economic boom and driving it forward. The structural changes in Vietnam have transformed the worldview of the country’s people and led to an expanding generational gap.

“Traditional and modern culture collide and I want to bundle exactly this dualism in my oeuvre,” says Nam. At the same time the artist emphasizes very consciously that he does not want to criticize the past or the present, but wants to show the disruption that the younger generation feels as well. In addition to the artistic confrontation with cultural change in society, “there is also the message of not forgetting the old traditions and appreciating their generation with their views and ideas, even if the world is turning faster and faster.”

Nam’s compositions create an impressive picture of a changing society. His painting technique is virtuoso and in the true sense of the word not only frees layers of paint but also layers of time. His oeuvre is a wealth of allusions and juxtapositions that inspire to think further about its changing processes and to not forget the Vietnamese cultural assets and traditions.

Survival is showing at Craig Thomas Gallery (279(i) Tran Nhat Duat, D1) until December 10, 2018.

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