IN GOD WE TRUST
5 Aug -10 Sept 2023 at Lim Hak Tai gallery - Nayang Academy of Fine Arts - Singgapore
Yelling Faces - Đợi Chờ (Waiting) - 2019
IN GOD WE TRUST
Yelling Faces - If everything has a voice
NAFA solo exhibition, 5 August 2023
1990, my Dad and I discovered that sculpture is something I can do. I switched from drawing to sculpture and entered Art School. Among other many other things, I made the first Yelling Faces in ceramic around 1993.
1994, I came to America. On the bus in peaceful Portland, Oregon, I saw a woman reading the TIME magazine, in the red-framed cover is a big white headline, ‘CAN WE ALL GET A LONG?’ on top of a burning picture of Los Angeles. Why that particular issue was on that bus that day? I wondered now. It was about 2 year after of the L.A. Race Riot.
2003, I set off to New York City to pursue my Master of Fine Art at the School Visual Arts, 2 years after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. From the many free newspapers passed to us on the way to school, I saw an X-rayed picture of a milk bottle packed with nails from a passenger in London Heathrow airport, the black and white silhouette shape of an innocent bottle with a nail halo. Struck by it, I got some nails and tested them on paper. I discovered that if I sprayed paint the nails, I could achieve the same effect of the X-rayed picture I saw. When hatred is at its max, the most innocent thing can be a lethal weapon.
Vietnam, Portland, Los Angeles, New York and London, 30 years later, those stories have slowly converged here in this exhibition at Lim Hak Tai gallery in Singapore. The war in Europe reminded me of the Vietnam war 48 years ago. How do one measure hatred? Is it the same size despite time and scale of a country? Hence the name of the bronze weapons modeled on the forms of countries series: My hatred is the same size as yours. When hatred is at its max, everything can turn into a killing object. Hatred is insane.
Part of making art allows me to be free, free to say things that I think each day as fast and effortlessly as breathing. I need a medium for it. In 2010, the Yelling Faces reappeared in New York City, in different forms – sculpture, drawings, ink on paper. In time, I realized they are my faces. They are also seeking answers to the big questions of life as in my other works. I was reminded of those faces again during the Covid-19 lockdown period in Sài Gòn. And I have made them each day since. Yell!
I always keep a notebook with me wherever I go,
Jotting down ideas that come to mind,
Catching them immediately the way
that would please David Lynch,
Before they recede into the mysterious collective
Consciousness or Universe where they came from.
Those palm-sized notebooks are private. But these drawings are my notebooks on walls. Yell!!
Or maybe because Aquarians have a big urge to communicate. For Aquarius artists like Jeff Koons, Yoko Ono, Jackson Pollock, Lawrence Weiner and Derek Jarman and me, our art is our megaphone. Yell!!!
YELL, YELL with all one’s Might!!!!
Injustice, Love, War, Peace, and all the Very Important Mundanities.
Muffled voices buried deep yelling at the face of tragedy, before leaving this life, amidst the sea of the long pandemic, crazy things happened, suffering ensured. The yelling faces Yelled!
A diary on canvas, beer bottles, plastic wraps, waxed boxes, shopping bags, with graffiti paint pens. Trash became art?
Dates, feelings, dad’s passing, love making, days, arguments, months, repression, hypocrisies, stupidities, fear, pleasures etc recorded.
I drew the faces on big canvas and ran them over with the wheels of my License 2 Draw robots, covered them with paint. The Trampled voiceless. Bulldozed, flattened, disappeared.
I shrink-wrapped special stretchers and drew the yelling faces on them, trapped layers of them upon layers of them. The muffled-voices-packed bricks. When a Molotov cocktail or a brick thrown forth, are they only the voice of one?
Nói chại, nói ngược, satirical, disguised vulgarity, thankfulness…
English, Vietnamese, in reverse, two souls in one body…
A Nuclear Winter is imminent? Are we too crazy to Not to YELL?
They “X-rayed” Paintings, Weapon Countries, King Midas’ Rope, The VIP Mundanities, the Tongue and many more, come together now in In God We still Trust. Yelling I still do at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
30 years later Keep Yelling all the way till the very End.
Sài Gòn - HCMC
30/4/23 Âm Lịch – 17 Jun 23
UuDam Tran Nguyen