Presented at the YoYo Space of the Palais de Tokyo last month was In The Eyes of Exodus, featuring the work of Vietnamese artist Hom Nguyen. Along with the artist’s works, the exhibit included an unusual collaboration with Fred Pinel of French luxury trunk makers Pinel & Pinel.
The presentation featured the scrawled, gestural ink and charcoal portraits for which Hom is best known. Created from memory without a physical model, his portraits represent the uprooted Vietnamese who fled the country via boats in the 1970s.
The deliberate omission of mouths in Homs portraits refer to the fact that the Vietnamese immigrants, who arrived in France in the 1970s, were not given the right to speak nor could they understand.
Hom Nguyen X Pinel & Pinel
For the exhibit, Fred Pinel created three monumental trunks, each measuring a height of 180 cm and a width of 140 cm, as giant canvases for the artist.
On the white leather trunks, Hom depicted his wistful faces of uprooted Vietnamese children, often referred to as boat people in his inimitable style.
The trunks represent not only a surface on which to draw, but also the hopes and dreams, packed into meager suitcases, of those who left Vietnam at that time.
“What brought us together is the leather. Hom was the shine on the shoes says Fred Pinel. We wanted to meet and then made the connection.
Hom had a story to tell, and with Freds trunks, he dreamed of another form of travel. “It’s the journey of the soul he says with modesty tinged with emotion. It’s the life of immigrants, their pain and joy. All their dreams and their existence is concentrated in a suitcase.”
Hom Nguyen is a self taught artist whose style is instinctive and without complex.
He is a nonconformist personality, and so are his works. Working with charcoal, oil or even pen, each painting appears as a fight hand-to-hand with the material from which arises a desire: to reveal the depths of the human being through lines and colors.
Most of Hom’s work revolves around the creation of monumental portraits. The choice of colors, the application of the material or the liveliness of the gesture are always in order to show the world his vision of the human being beyond appearances. His pieces thus capture and transcende the depth of the feelings and the complexity of the emotions that upset the human soul.
His subtle representations address the duality of the visible and the invisible, the material and the immaterial.
Hom Nguyen pushes all of us to think, to an introspection on what we show about ourselves, what we are trying to hide and what we really are.
Hom is represented by A2Z Art Gallery, the first contemporary art gallery created by the Chinese in Paris.