La Patinoire Royale—Galerie Valérie Bach is pleased to present This House Is Falling Upwards through a Hole in (do) China—Trong Gia Nguyen’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Based in Vietnam, the artist will be showing recent sculptural and 2D works that are objects defined by elements of obstruction. While possessing allure on the surface, they allude to an underbelly of societal decline. The artist’s de-construction of the 'American dream' is superimposed over an equally elegiac Vietnamese landscape.
In Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the locals call it, the rapid economic growth has led to thoughtless development projects that are plainly eroding the architectural and social fabric that give the city its quickly fading charm. This House Is Falling Upwards through a Hole in (do) China is built around various projects that were made since 2015, when the artist relocated from New York to his city of birth. The viewer is presented with a disjointed construction site of a home, with windows, walls, a door, fence, and mailbox. One series of windows replicate the patterned iron gates that adorn old colonial homes, except these are made from wood, lending them a frail quality. They depict fragmented, barely noticeable traces of scenes both idyllic and dark, from sunsets to the Killing Fields. As opposed to the traditional geometric patterns, a second series of windows mimics the common shattered glass screens of mobile phones. These are welded from traditional iron and possess standard security, yet metaphorically glare at the 'black mirrors' we’ve all brought into our homes and lives. Our phones mediate our lives while Nguyen’s cracked portals transport us back into the physical, messy reality that is everyday life. They are framed in wooden casings and frayed sheetrock, loosely painted and filled. These too are architectural remnants, perhaps from an all too predictable, oncoming future.
Installed in the back gallery is a door with a pet flap. However, with a reversal of function, the small pet-sized door swivels open as any ordinary door might, while the human-sized door flaps back and forth against anyone willing to walk through it. The floor of another room contains Six6Sicks, a hexagonal fence whose vertical wood planks are slanted to resemble hashtags. A riff on the iconic white picket fence symbol of the 'American Dream', Nguyen’s border wall encircles itself, not letting anyone in or out, and casting an impossible black metallic shadow in the middle. Each of the six modules is painted in a different shade of 'yellow skin'. Six6Sicks foreshadows, as do all the works in Nguyen’s exhibition, a sense of collective dread, lifted at the same time by moments of absurd familiarity. What kind of world are we creating, and do we need to be stopped?
Press release courtesy La Patinoire Royale – galerie Valérie Bach.