Nguyen Tran Cuong
In Bloom 綻放
In Bloom is the latest collection of works from Vietnamese artist Nguyen Tran Cuong. The exhibition features lacquer paintings of floral arrangements, captured as objects of beauty and the blooming of which take on a role as visual indicators and trackers of the seasons.
Nguyen is close to nature. From his near open-air studio, he observes and feels the seasons as they come and go. The blooming and blossoming at different times of the year act as visual cues to the changing seasons and provide him with the inspiration for these works. Nguyen paints floral arrangements in vases or pots, devoid of all pretention and plainly capturing the essence of simple beauty using the richness in tone and depth that only lacquer can give. As an overview of the exhibition, the presence of all the different floral species blooming together within a shared vacuum transforms the gallery space into a timeless place of serenity and contemplation.
Nguyen is a poetic artist deeply attached to his native culture and this is reflected consistently throughout his work whether in the choice of subject matter, where he often references myths and legends or in the media he works with, such as pigments on handmade Do paper and traditional lacquer. Vietnamese lacquer is distinctive from other types of lacquers in the way it is first laid as multiple layers, up to twenty, and then sanded down to reveal the underlying patterns. A highly demanding and laborious method, it is only practiced by a few artists. With the occasional addition of metallic powders and other media, Vietnamese lacquer gives a surprising degree of depth visually whilst maintaining a perfectly smooth surface. As the artist says “it can transmit the emotions on my mind through its mystical colours and tones that no other media can achieve”.
In Bloom does not only offer Nguyen’s personal insight on the subject, medium and his native culture, it also serves as an invitation for viewers to pause and re-experience the beauty of seasonality.
Nguyen Tran Cuong (b. 1979, Hanoi, Vietnam) received his Bachelor of Arts, major in Traditional Lacquer, from the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts, in 2004. His works have been exhibited extensively across Asia and Europe. He has notably won a prize at the Philip Morris ASEAN 2003 Fine Arts Competition and participates regularly in artist workshops and residencies across Asia.