Art installation displays objects of artist’s dreams

November 08, 2021 - 10:00

HÀ NỘI — Young contemporary artist AP Nguyễn has invited people into a journey to explore her “personal treasure trove”.

The “treasure trove”, according to the 22-year-old artist, has been accumulated over the years, and shows the objects of her own desires and dreams. It has been entitled Lovecore.

Visitors seen at the 'Lovecore' exhibition by AP Nguyễn. — Photos courtesy of Manzi 

Hòn non bộ (Miniature mountains), áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress), Hạ Long Bay, which appear in the showcase, were selected from AP’s ongoing project which started in 2017 when she left Việt Nam to study and live abroad.

Inspired by the sites that have become symbols for Vietnamese tourism such as Hạ Long Bay or Ninh Bình Province, and by the long-standing local art form of hòn non bộ, or a mountain with everything in miniature, this series of sculptures acts as portals through which people can look into AP’s private world.

Traditionally displayed in temples and pagodas, hòn non bộ can now be used as decoration in homes. On the surface of AP’s sculptures, however, in place of details usually seen on a conventional hòn non bộ such as live plants and ceramic miniature pagodas, humans and animals, have been replaced with palm trees, starfish, flip-flops and bikinis – alluring visuals often associated with the illusion of ‘tropical holiday’ escapism.

A small rock-like sculpture by AP Nguyễn features palm tree and flip-flops. The sculpture acts as portals through which people can look into the artist's private world.

Next to them, the phrase ‘Việt Nam Quê Hương Tôi’ (Việt Nam My Homeland) appears as fragmented, separated, singular words. Inside some of AP’s ceramic sculptures the audience can see videos of the artist herself in different situations, playing different characters.

“Borrowing from popular cultural phenomenon, utilising the aesthetic of mass-produced souvenirs, as well as their well-known and over-exhausted iconography, AP playfully subverts the conventions and expectation of such objects and images – by altering their properties and functions, or by weaving in her autobiographical reflections and experiences. Her work teases with what we think we know,” Curator Bill Nguyễn said of AP’s work.

Born in Hà Nội in 1999, AP Nguyễn is a contemporary artist practicing in the mediums of sculpture, painting, video and writing. She is inspired by her experiences of migration and movement.

Within her works, she explores both the historical and modern mythologies of water. Language is also an important factor of her work, allowing for wordplay and poetry to influence how she understands everyday concepts and material artifacts.

Over the past few years, she has resided in London where she is studying a BA in Fine Arts at the Chelsea College of Arts (University of the Arts London).

At the time of COVID-19, she was halfway through her second year but had to return to Việt Nam to ensure her health and safety. After returning to her native country, she began to experiment with forms of clay and lacquer painting, allowing the raw material and its rich cultural histories to tease out new meanings and ways of seeing the world.

Her exhibition Lovecore opens until November 25, 10am-6pm, from Tue-Sun, at Manzi Exhibition Space, 2 Ngõ Hàng Bún, Ba Đình District, Hà Nội. — VNS