March 14 – 18, 2018
Gallery M, CICA Museum
My works often exploring the concept of cultural identity, integration, and displacement. As a Vietnamese immigrant who became a painter in America, I realized the difficulty and challenge of being an outsider. Like many others, I’ve left my motherland to follow the dream of freedom and liberty, tried to redefine my identity and assimilate to a new culture. Although living a new life beyond war and the vulnerability of refugee generations, I still experience the struggle of being an immigrant and haunted by the misfortunate stories of ‘Vietnamese boat people’.
Paintings from this series have a sense of frustration, chaos, and decay. Unlike the elegant and luxurious of traditional silk painting, the fabric was beaten, tore apart and soaked in black ink. Pieces of translucent skin-like silk become the metaphor for people who sacrificed their lives in search for a better life. Many of works in this series also portray the contradiction between the harshness of nature and refugee’s fragile life during their escape. The chaotic space was constructed by layering of paint, silk, drawing and endless patterns of splattered ink. I pictured the feeling of being pain and suffering like those sharp linear marks that cut through the paper surface from all different directions. Tearing fabric that hung-off the paper’s edges conveys the feeling of being lost and hopeless. The darkness of ink as the bottom of the ocean that has swallowed many ships, bodies, hopes, and their freedom dream.
‘The indescribable fear’ is an investigation of the human condition that has become a part of my existence. This painting series related to personal history that may not be experienced by all but the tragedy of immigrant and refugee are parts of history and continue to repeat themselves, regardless culture, nation, race, gender or age. As a Vietnamese-American artist, I have no excuse to look away at that unforgettable past which is the deep root of my identity. I hope that the voice of refugee and immigrant being heard, their stories continue to inspire others to keep fighting and achieving their dream.
Quoctrung “Kenny” Nguyen was born and raised in South Vietnam. In 2007, he went to Vietnam National University of Art and Architecture for BFA in Fashion Design. In 2015, he earned a BFA degree in painting at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States. Nguyen’s artwork often draws on the elements of personal experiences to explore identity and cultural displacement. Nguyen has exhibited his works in many group exhibitions and solo exhibitions in the U.S and aboard including Japan and South Korea. In 2016, Nguyen received an Excellence Award for his painting exhibited in Asia Contemporary Young Artist Award Exhibition at Sejong Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea. In 2017, Nguyen is one of ten Vietnamese American artists was chosen to exhibit his works at Rayburn Office House Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Kenny Nguyen lives and works in Charlotte, North Carolina.