…and still we banter with the Devil, 2017, oil, silk, acrylic, 19th century cotton, antique 24k gold-leaf obi thread on canvas, 72 x 96″
Turner Carroll Gallery is proud to mount a solo exhibition of new work by Lien Truong. In her practice, aesthetic delights confront historical realities as Truong takes figure, landscape, and technique into the realm of Asian Futurism.
While landscapes are often thought of as banal or neutral subject matter, there is, in fact, a deeply politicized tradition within the United States linked to colonization and the problematic force of Manifest Destiny. Fictitious and constructed spaces of the American landscape painting by artists such as Thomas Moran and John Gast upheld narratives that glorified the United States’ colonial dominance of the land and the peoples of North America. Glorious depictions of nature found in such places as Yellowstone and Yosemite imbued landscapes with nationalistic pride and spiritual gravitas. As a Vietnamese-born, U.S. citizen, Truong steps into this tradition not only as an American but also as a person whose family lived the consequences of colonialism and civil conflict firsthand. Lien Truong’s father worked in the embroidery business in Vietnam and was the third generation of his family to do so. During the French colonization of the country, their family lost their factory and home in Hanoi. They moved the factory and the workers to Saigon to save the business. Years later, during the Fall of Saigon in 1975, her family fled again, yet this time they could not take any of the embroideries with them. Today, Truong uses fabric, thread, and paint to reassemble older narratives within the context of this history.
From the Earth Rise Radiant Beings, 2021, oil, silk, acrylic, copper pigment, enamel on canvas, 72 x 96”
In Truong’s practice human figures are powerful tools in the recontextualization of iconography used by European and American artists to uphold past colonial narratives. Women were sexualized while at the same time overly diminutive and fulfilling expectations of the Western gaze. Truong gives these figures agency, recasting them in the palest yellow and transforming them into silhouettes. In this form, they are divorced from the skin, cloth, and ornamentation, which historically stood in for the personhood of an Asian woman. Portraits of historical women also appear, such as Teresa Magbanua y Ferraris, a military leader in the Philippines who organized and fought against the colonial forces of Spain, the U.S., and Japan. Truong says of her work that she searches “for a form that bares my own experience but also tests out the art historical hierarchies assigned to such cultural forms.”
Blessed is the Black Silk on Your Dark Little Head, 2021, oil, silk, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 72”
Truong’s techniques hold as much significance as her subjects. Thick and gestural oil painting is juxtaposed against flowing hand-painted silk. Strips of silk cascade down the canvas, so the slightest breeze or viewer walking past causes it to vibrate over the surface. Using silk in such a context can’t help but bring to mind visions of the exotic “East.” Truong manages to reference and reject colonialism and orientalism through these forms, replacing them with narratives of resistance, strength, beauty, and love.
The Tangled Web We Weave, 2022, oil, silk, acrylic, chiffon, linen, vintage Japanese fabric on canvas, 60 x 72″
Truong says, “In these works, in my mind, I’m creating a kind of Asian Futurism. One that considers the actual violent histories that emerged from these orientalist ideologies and the trauma that has been absorbed intergenerationally to transcend geography and through trans-national experience to create narratives of resistance and autonomy.”
Turner Carroll Gallery will host Lien Truong in person for her opening reception Friday, August 26, 2022 from 5–7 pm. We hope you can join us!