Art Galleries Pasadena
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Orinda, California USA
Young Boy and Girl
An image of a young boy and girl, Cambodian victims of war, are set in a background of colored washes, splashes, and resin. Both portraits are from photographs taken when they fell victims to the Khmer Rouge and the last photos of them to be seen. The boy wore a tag on his shirt bearing the number 152 and the girl had the number 167 on the photograph. The portrait is painted without these numbers to honor their human spirit. Cleansing these portraits with color that coalesce unconscious associations, which seep through cracks in my consciousness. I manipulate the background by combining oil and water to juxtapose the paradox of war and peace. The paints oppose each other and coagulate, ripple, and crack. Resin is washed on top. The process creates a three-dimensional blanket of glossy and matte color. My washes and splashes are waters and oils to cleanse and purify the subject.
This work is rooted in my heritage as Vietnamese and now American. Born in war-ravaged Vietnam in 1969, with a Vietnamese mother and an American solder, I see how war, not only, destroys lives and families, but the residuals of such hatred continues to influence countries and individuals beyond war years. It is my hope that in this art, dearest families, once destroyed, can heal as their visage swims to the surface of a glossy pond of acrylic and oil. Portraits yes, but also icons of innocence immortalized from a past into a present. One in which this history almost seems mythological, yet paradoxically, is still all too real in a world in which too many are wedged between empires of hatred and greed.
The process of creating this poured paint is itself a purification of personal regrets and world historical failures, imbedded in resin, waiting for renewal in a future in which love can again flower between all the people of the world. In the end, my exploration has taken me on a never-ending journey of who I am and where I came from. My work reminds me to cleanse and forgive, while always retaining that memory of the dear perfection of mankind. It reminds me to never forget loss, but also, to let it go.
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