On display in the Upper Gallery this September is ‘Of Tristia, Forlorn!’, Michelle Nguyen’s debut exhibition at Bau-Xi Gallery.
Stemming from a childhood fascination with death, ‘Of Tristia, Forlorn!’ explores the symbiosis between life after death, and death after life. Heavily influenced by poetry and cultural superstition, Nguyen examines these themes through the surreal, macabre, erotic and oftentimes humorous subjects in her oil and pastel canvases.
The imagined figures of Nguyen’s compositions demand second looks and closer examination, their anonymous bodies at once monstrous and personable, singular and homogenous, familiar and strange. Nguyen’s depictions explore the poetics of the masses, empowering the figure of the other through unabashed nudity and the plurality of the crowd – to challenge the dynamic between subject and audience.
The stripped-down mythology and folkloric elements of Nguyen’s work upends traditional narratives while questioning internalized values and assumed truths, and exploring the ephemerality of the conjured moment. Nguyen paints an open-ended memento mori, which provokes reflection on personal mortality, keeping a door ajar for the unfathomable elements of the living world and inviting a dialogue on the unspoken.