Nguyen Khai

Nguyen Khai was born in Hue in 1940 and graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in 1963. He is one of the founders of the prestigious Association of Young Vietnamese Artists and won the Bronze Medal at a Spring Art Exhibition in Saigon even before his graduation. In 1981 Khai and his family chose California for resettlement.

1963 Catinat Gallery, Saigon, Vietnam
1964 The Tunis Biennial
1965 The Paris Biennial
1966 The Tokyo Biennial
1967 The Sao Paulo Biennial
1968 The New Delhi Biennial
1969 The Sao Paulo Biennial
1981 Garden Grove Mills House Gallery, Garden Grove, CA
1982 UC Irvine Art Gallery, Irvine, CA
1983 - 1984 Kasden's Gallery, Torrance, CA
1985 OCC Art Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA
1987 UCLA Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1989 - 1990 Studio Art Gallery, Burbank, CA
1991 - 1992 Century Art Gallery, Westminster, CA
1992 "East and West", Wignall Museum Gallery, CA
1993 Cypress College Fine Arts Gallery
1994 "Mankind & Computer", Vietworld Magazine, Westminster, CA
1995 Ryal Gallery, Boca Raton, FL; Tustin Renaissance Gallery, Tustin, CA; Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition, Washington, DC; Touring 7 Museum 1995-1998
1996 San Jose Museum, CA; Robert Hull Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT; Laguna Museum, Laguna Beach, CA; Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL; "An Ocean Apart", Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA; Pacific Asian Museum, Pasadena, CA
1997 "Salt & Pepper", Institute of Contemporary Art Gallery, San Jose, CA; "20 Years of Vietnamese Art in America", Michigan Union; Tustin Renaissance Gallery, Tustin, CA
1998 Cuttress Gallery, Pomona, CA
1999 LA Artcore, CA
2000 LA Artcore, CA; Tustin Renaissance Gallery, Tustin, CA
2001 Old Courthouse Museum, CA
2002 Vinh Loi Gallery, Saigon, Vietnam
2003 "40 Years of Artistry", Vien Dong Gallery, Westminster, CA

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Nguyen Khai at L.A. Artcore

Nguyen Khai's new non-objective paintings, which depart from his earlier figurative works, were the primary focus of a recent solo exhibition at L.A. Artcore. A distinguished figure in Los Angeles' international artworld firmament, Khai's non-objective images are filled with the sophistication and confidence one would expect of a seasoned artist of his distinction. Back in the sixties while still in Vietnam, he was a founding member of the prestigious Vietnamese Young Artists Association and was profiled in a number of international biennials including those in Tunis, Paris, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and New Delhi.

Working with a minimal and elegantly sparse visual vocabulary, Khai's new paintings are built of the most elemental geometric forms, creating tensions of balance and imbalance between triangles, circles, rectangles and squares that appear in vast color fields. Khai uses familiar, early twentieth century constructivist language to probe the contemporary dynamics between spirituality, metaphysics, and technology. The materials he uses range from burlap and pigment to nails and computer chips, twinning natural and technological idioms in ways that are unusual and striking.

The painting Network, for example, suggests the interconnections of far-flung dominions that are linked by the most fragile pathways. Like Time of Progress, Fly, and even Solar Energy, these works consider the complexities of communication across geographic and chronological space.

Within these broad interests, there are other paintings such as Enlightenment and What Time Left Behind that broach more complex questions concerning the relationship between spiritual knowledge and the conceptual paradigms of science and technology. Probing the relationship between older values embodied in terms such as wisdom and enlightenment and newer interests in standardized, global knowledge, these works examine the often-conflicting conceptual frameworks of our time. What Time Left Behind configures the past in the form of a realistic horse from which emerges a powerful abstract pentagonal form, symbolic of the present. Enlightenment approaches such concepts from a related angle, contrasting a small, diamond-like stone and a bronze computer chip.

Portrait of the Moon, for example, contrasted visual idioms of birth, seeds, and nature with those of maturity, computer parts, and technology. Emphasizing symbolic stratifications of life, these works juxtapose innocence and purity with self-awareness and a loss of innocence.

Sophisticated and complex, Khai's works converse with an array of visual phenomena ranging from ancient Asian court art, with its perfected symbols of suns, moons, and the seasons, to contemporary images of machine gears, computer parts, and time clocks. Heralding the coming of a new millennium, these works reconsider the socio-cultural values of late twentieth century life, revering the wisdom of the past while striding within the technological milieu of the present.

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See his arts