Fragments of Nostalgia
August 9, 2021
July 9, 2021
Nguyễn Tuấn Cường
‘Fragments of Nostalgia’ features Nguyen Tuan Cuong's latest lacquer works, continuing his signature series of still life paintings. Overstepping its own boundaries of the familiar serenity and stillness, Cường’s practice this time has gone further than the subtleties in the technique or the poetry in the representation. The lyricism has become more demanding while the narrative gets more compelling, ‘Fragments Nostalgia’ uncovers the interrelationships in space and time, provides the reflection on presences and absences, shapes and shadows in liminal space.
This exhibition is part of Manzi’s art programme supported by the Goethe Institut.
ABOUT 'FRAGMENTS OF NOSTALGIA’
- A writing for exhibition by artist Oanh Phi Phi
A lacquer painting is the sum of two parts— the building up of paint and symbols and the sanding away. How much to reveal by sanding away is the most essential and thoughtful decision as an author.
In Nguyễn Tuấn Cường’s paintings, we are inside an intimate and dusky interior. Forms seem to come into view but stay buried under the penumbra of Son ta. The layers of then and canh gian lacquer become deep space while small still life objects are merely there to delineate the empty space within them and anchor our gaze. These domestic bowls, jars, and lanterns transport us to a time in the past of oral traditions.
Looking at the paintings I am reminded of such stories as 'Chuyện người con gái Nam Xương'. In this tale when the father goes away to war the mother comforts their young son nightly by telling him her casted shadow is his father. The paintings are like the intimate moment before mother lights the candle and “father” appears. This light would be a reverie and psychological comfort before a harrowing reality, but knowing what happens in the tale, it is only an illusion.
Cuong’s decision to embrace the liminal space of shadows rather than removing it is a reminder that shadows are where transitions and transformations happen and of the Buddhist sutra, "Form is emptiness (śūnyatā), emptiness is form.