Solo Exhibition by Hom Nguyen
7 November – 21 December 2019
Racines, or ‘Roots’, by Hom Nguyen is inspired by the French-Vietnamese artist’s personal exploration of his cultural identity and belonging, in a world where boundaries are simultaneously diminishing and fortified. Born in Paris to a Vietnamese immigrant mother, Hom’s low economic status and identity as ‘Other’ resulted in unprecedented hardships and challenges, including various stints of homelessness on the streets of Paris. Nonetheless, his resilience and his ease of empathy with others — from which the artist’s iconic style derives — may also be attributed to the same difficult experiences. Thus attuned by his own life to the pain of others, the artist captures in his works a rare and unusual glimpse beyond the protective masks that we so often wear in our lives, to illuminate the shared vulnerabilities that connect us all.
Having always been relegated to the periphery, Hom’s idiosyncratic style is no different from its maker. A self-taught artist, he is known for his larger-than-life portraits that capture the intricate complexities of human emotion. Working with charcoal, gouache, felt, oil, and even pen, he applies the materials with such vivacity and instinct that the faces of his works seem to emerge from an explosion of emotion. Yet, what remains is only a trace — a captured expression in time. Through these gestural lines, we are able to peer into the deepest aspects of the human psyche. They reveal that though we may fear exposure, there exists simultaneously a longing to be seen, to be felt, to belong — and in these shared feelings, we are united. In just seven years, Hom has gone from working as a shoe atelier to becoming a world-renowned artist featured in the biggest museums and galleries in Europe. This level of fame is undeniably a testament to the emotional impact of his works.
The questioning of our identity, of our belonging, is a universal one — particularly as our everyday lives become increasingly influenced by forces beyond our borders. There is a hunger to understand from where we have come, particularly when our futures feel so unknown and threatening. We find solace in our humanity, in our culture — in the faces of one another — for it is within these faces that we see the hidden aspects of our own expressions mirrored back to us. In this way, Racines becomes a unifying space that exists within, and with-out, all that seeks to divide us.
Miaja Gallery Manager