Missed the Ascending Dragon

Phung Huynh

A small group show of contemporary Vietnamese artists just closed at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA.  The group exhibition, The Ascending Dragon: Contemporary Vietnamese Artists featuring the artwork of Vietnamese-born or –based artists, and artists of Vietnamese descent living and working in the United States and co-curated by Sinead Finnerty-Pyne and Ashley McLean Emenegger.
“This exhibition explores a variety of themes and subject matter, at times reflecting the immigrant experience and convergence of Eastern and Western ideology both in the US and Vietnam.”

The show exhibited work from Tiffany Chung, Vu Dan Tan, Phung Huynh, Pipo Nguyen-duy, Christine Nguyen, and Tam Van Tran and is a refreshing and realistic survey of artists who while sharing common ethnic background and/or influence are completely immersed in their own creative exploration, albeit pattern, science or pop culture.

What you will find here is art that does not directly address the (Vietnamese) war, but work that is bordering on cute, weird and decidedly varied. This art shows the range age, experience and oceans can create.  And depending on the viewer, how one interprets or reminisces.  For instance, when I laid eyes on Phung Huynh’s work I thought it was very culturally provocative and a more sexually brazen version of eerily “cute” characters that immediately brought me back to the lovely animated scene in the 1980’s flick Xanadu where the Olivia Newton John and her love interest’s characters romantically flirt and flutter.

1980 "Xanadu" Animation from film

The quality of work within each genre is impressive, conceptual and brings the F back in Art that is Fun.  Definitely artists to check out.  A special shout out here to the curators for including the late Vu Dan Tan’s work in the exhibition.  These are artists to follow.

Tiffany Chung

Lien Truong

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