Nguyen Xuan Hoang is a 27-year-old Hanoian artist. His first solo exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City has been visible at San Art since October, 2d. The show is presented by the Chinese-Australian curator Zoe Butt.
Nguyen Xuan Hoang’s work has gravitated for a few years around the image of the cocoon. The cocoon, because it reverses on itself, illustrates for Xuan Hoang his wish of externalization of his Self. In a more general way, this shape symbolizes for him the revelation of human soul.
One of his most decisive projects, called “Cocoon House” (made of a small wood house covered by yellow cocoons) was exhibited at the Hanoi Fine Art University during the National Contemporary Fine Art Festival in 2007, after being installed in a countryside field.
Using again cocoons as a raw material, he presented a solo show at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi the same year.
The paintings installations presented at San Art stand in the logical continuity of Nguyen Xuan Hoang’s cocoon-based works. Here, it is also the idea of reversibility that brought him to create a new series of paintings with an inverted perspective.
Experimenting for five years the rallying point between surface and depth, he asserts: “For me, the horizon line does not sit behind the surface of the painting, it stands in front, which inspires me to convey the perception of a third dimension, where what is perceived as far away is actually far larger and more prominent.”
Thus, in some of his last works, the objects situated far away appear bigger than the ones situated on the front and the central perspective of the tiles on the floor is also inverted. It gives to the whole a sensation of floating.
On two of the paintings presented at San Art, this sensation of levitation is emphasized by a background made of shaded brown or blue-tinted grey stripes, slightly waving. Everyday life objects represented on these paintings (chairs, stools, books) seem to be floating, looking for their lost function. Strangely, they seem as sad and lost as a human being can be.
These paintings are part of installations staging also real objects – the same ones as those that served as models for the paintings. It is like if the painting was going out of the frame, like if it was coming towards the viewer, exaggerating a bit more the sensation of spatial confusion.
The combination of objects and their representations – especially the chair – reminds us of the work by the famous American artist Joseph Kosuth, considered as the founding father of conceptual art. He used to exhibit a real object (a chair, a pan…) going with its photographic representation and its definition from the dictionary. However, he was endeavoring to defend the idea of art as a language, while Xuan Hoang uses tautology to answer formal considerations.
The question of gravity, challenged in Nguyen Xuan Hoang’s work, goes with his wish to express human emotions.
For him, “every position of the objects symbolizes a psychological state of the human condition.” Thus, he invites the viewer to see his works not only as simple still lives but rather as representations of one's mental space.
Although Nguyen Xuan Hoang is a very young artist, recently graduated from the Hanoi Fine Art University, he has the credit for pursuing an experimental approach and for developing it in a constant and consistent way. One can’t but wish that his work will still progress in this way, thus making of him an artist that cannot be overlooked in Vietnam in the next few years.
San Art Independent Artist Space is located at 3, Me Linh street, District Binh Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City
For more information about Nguyen Xuan Hoang’s work: