Tuyen Nguyen’s paintings are displayed at the Craig Thomas Gallery – PHOTO: COURTESY OF ORGANIZER

Nguyen said the central theme behind his debut collection, titled “Con Nguoi” (Manimal), is the isolation of an unreal man, who has become estranged from the society around him.

Boxes and other geometric forms in the paintings represent the process of urbanization and concreteness. “Within these forms there is an inner soul that finds itself lost and shrunken in a tiny room when surrounded by a big and bustling city,” he explained.

Nguyen, working in HCMC, originally planned to hold his first solo exhibition in late 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. The suspension gave the artist more time to create an array of works that avoid similarity or repetition. The 12 paintings in the Manimal collection on display have been curated by the artist himself from a larger group of works that he has created over the past year.

Nguyen’s color palette is rich in many of the works and then dark and black in other pieces. “Vivid colors such as reds, purples, blues and yellows are symbols of modernity, while black and white represent the past or old objects for me. This collection is a study in colors and shapes, which both contrast and complement each other,” he said.

A painting titled “Tron” (Slip), which was the last painting in the series completed, may be the greatest representation of Nguyen’s visual aesthetic. It shows the confidence of an artist who has already completed an entire collection of works and is free to use what he has learned along the way to create a signature piece.

With his collection Manimal, Nguyen has managed to create a new visual language that is appealing and unique. He also expects to bring about an energetic new breeze to the Vietnamese visual arts.

The Manimal exhibition will run until October 16.

Below are some artworks on display.