Coleman Burke Gallery is pleased to present Domestic God____, Trong Gia Nguyen’s first exhibition with Coleman Burke Gallery. Loosely inspired by Italo Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” the show is a selection from Nguyen’s broad range of works that contend with the idea of “interruption” – literary, visual, comical, conceptual. Nothing is quite what it appears, and the narrative gone awry is the only constant.
Like Calvino’s novel, in which the protagonist-reader's attempts to finish the book is ever thwarted, each work inDomestic God____ acts as a visual stoppage and passage from one “chapter” to the next. In Nguyen’s narrative, the viewer encounters a photograph of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), whose building signage has been changed to read “MosQUE.” A queue of people waits outside, anticipating their communion with Art. At this altar, the “chosen” ones are interchangeable – from Christ, to King Arthur, to Darth Vader. There is no mat to kneel on or pray. What you get instead is something like Orphic Rug (2011), a trompe-l’oeil “magic carpet” made entirely of paint, that not only depicts a wooden staircase descending into darkness, but is itself made entirely of paint, including the knots and tassels. This rug won’t fly, and those shoes won’t take you home. Oz Slippers, a pair of ruby pumps modeled after Dorothy’s, contain repelling supermagnets embedded on the sides that make the task of clapping their heels together impossible – at least without spraining an ankle.
Nguyen is also showing Artists Commercials, a multi-channel video depicting real artists in their studios promoting themselves, as in actual television spots. Directed and scripted by Nguyen, the artists deliver irreverent monologues that toe the line between truth and fiction, serving as a colorful analysis of the economy, art market, identity, party politics, and all else under the sun. Like Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists, Nguyen’s commercials are his own embellished, “historical” accounts of the art and artists of his time.
Trong Gia Nguyen was born in Saigon, Vietnam and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He has had solo shows at Galerie ZK (Berlin, 2010), Galerie Quynh (Ho Chi Minh City, 2009), and Fruit & Flower Deli (New York, 2008). Group exhibitions include The Sixth Borough (Governors Island, 2010), Sequences (Iceland, 2008), 9th Havana Biennial (Cuba, 2006), and Performa 05 (New York). Nguyen has received grants from LegalArts, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Harvestworks Digital Media Center, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Puffin Foundation.