Dinh Q. Lê, Untitled, from the series “Tapestry,” 2006. Chromogenic print and linen tape, 53 x 53 inches. Courtesy of UBS Art Collection.
SAN JOSE, CA.- Dinh Q. Lê: True Journey Is Return is the largest solo exhibition of the renowned Vietnamese-American artist’s work in the United States in more than a decade. Dinh Q. Lê features five major video and photography installations, including the installation Vision In Darkness: Trần Trung Tín (2015), which has never before seen in the US, and rarely seen photo-weavings from 2006. The exhibition highlights the artist’s ongoing experimentation in narrative and storytelling through multimedia documentary video and found photography installations. The exhibition is organized by San José Museum of Art’sassociate curator Rory Padeken and is on view at SJMA from September 14, 2018 through April 7, 2019. A 120-page illustrated catalogue, has been published by SJMA in conjunction with the exhibition.
“We are thrilled to bring internationally renowned artist Dinh Q. Lê’s work to Silicon Valley as part of our ongoing commitment to exhibitions that reflect the diversity of our community and the exciting and important work being done by contemporary artists,” says Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director at SJMA.
Dinh Q. Lê, Untitled, from the series “Tapestry,” 2006. Chromogenic print and linen tape, 53 × 53 inches. Courtesy of UBS Art Collection.
While Lê is best known for his unique photo-weavings—interlaced vertical and horizontal strips of documentary photographs and Hollywood film stills about the Vietnam War—this exhibition highlights his ongoing experimentations in video and photography installation. He explores themes of departure and return, the role of the artist during times of war, and reimagining symbols of American imperialism and recent histories of Vietnam through documentary videos and multichannel cinematic presentations, delicate watercolors and abstract paintings made by his artist/subjects, and architectural structures that comprise thousands of photographs abandoned by families fleeing from the ravages of war. Engaged with other Vietnamese voices and perspectives, Lê reshapes and generates new memories and images of the conflict by giving voice literally and metaphorically to those marginalized by history.
Dinh Q. Lê, Crossing the Farther Shore, 2014. Found photographs, thread, and linen tape. Seven parts, dimensions variable. Photo by Nash Baker.
The exhibition includes Light and Belief: Voices and Sketches of Life from the Vietnam War (2012), a multimedia installation of 101 paintings and drawings with a documentary video with animation. Originally commissioned by documenta for dOCUMENTA 13, Light and Belief uncovers how northern Vietnamese artists were enlisted to fight in the war by sketching scenes at the battlefront. Vision In Darkness: Trần Trung Tín (2015), Lê’s sequel to Light and Belief, comprises six abstract paintings and a biographical documentary of artist Trần Trung Tín (1933–2008). The work examines Tran’s disillusionment with repressive government policies and the solace he found in creating abstract paintings— resisting the established artistic and social norms of the time. The exhibition will also feature Lê’s major architectural installation Crossing the Farther Shore (2014), constructed with thousands of found photographs abandoned by families fleeing from the conflicts of war; his earliest video works The Imaginary Country (2006) and The Farmers and the Helicopters (2006); and a selection of rarely-seen photo-weavings of flowers from the series “Tapestry” (2006).
“Lê entwines unknown narratives of war and migration from people in North Vietnam, the Vietnamese diaspora, and refugees who have recently returned to Vietnam,” says Padeken.
Dinh Q. Lê, Video still, The Imaginary Country, 2006. Four-channel video installation with sound. Dimensions variable Running time: 16 minutes, 4 seconds © Dinh Q. Lê. Courtesy of the artist and Shoshana Wayne Gallery.
Published by SJMA, the fully illustrated exhibition catalogue includes documentation of the exhibition; a transcribed conversation between Dinh Q. Lê and Moira Roth, Trefethen Professor Emerita of Art History, Mills College, Oakland; and essays by Padeken and by Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde, associate professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis; and Nora A. Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Born in 1968 in Hà Tiên, Vietnam, Dinh Q. Lê and his family immigrated to the US in 1978. He received his BA in studio art from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1989 and MFA in photography and related media from The School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1992. He currently lives and works in Vietnam. Recent awards include a Rauschenberg Residency, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York (2016); Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation, New York (2014); Visual Art Laureate, Prince Claus Fund, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2010); and Artist-in-Residence, Tokyo Wonder Site Aoyama (2009). He has had solo exhibitions at such venues as Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2015); Rice Gallery, Houston (2014); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Bellevue Arts Museum Washington (2007); Asia Society, New York (2005); and The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky (2000). His work is in the collections of Asia Society, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and San José Museum of Art.