Thao Nguyen Phan opens her first solo show in Scandinavia at Kunsthal Charlottenborg

On the occasion of CPH:DOX, Copenhagen’s international documentary film festival, Kunsthal Charlottenborg presents a solo show with Thao Nguyen Phan from 13 March 2024. Internationally recognized for her combined use of moving image, painting, and sculpture, the visual artist creates dreamlike and poetic narratives that trace the history of her country in relation to contemporary environmental and social changes.

Thao Nguyen Phan (b. Ho Chi Minh City, 1987; lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City) studied painting at Ho Chi Minh University of Fine Arts, Lasalle College of Arts in Singapore and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was later introduced to the moving image through the filmic works of authors such as the Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu (1903-1963), Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Joan Jonas, a pioneer of video and performance. Phan thus begins to develop a visual language in which pictorial matter, acting as a conceptual, narrative, and connective element, combines with different media and supports, from textiles to printed books. In her videos, painting comes alive, creating a dreamlike imagery in which folk traditions, fairy-tale narratives, literature, philosophy, and everyday life merge. The artist traces Vietnam’s turbulent historical events, reflecting on environmental and social changes related to human impact, such as the exploitation of natural resources and the destruction and colonization of the landscape.

Reincarnations of Shadows is organized by Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (where the exhibition was presented from 14 September 2023 until 14 January 2024) in collaboration with Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The title of the exhibition takes its cue from Phan’s newest video, Reincarnations of Shadows (moving-image-poem) (2023), commissioned by Pirelli HangarBicocca and co-produced by Fondazione In Between Art Film. Delving into the figure of artist Diem Phung Thi (1920-2002)—one of the first Vietnamese modernist women sculptors who lived and worked between France and Vietnam—the video reflects on the social meanings of art history and architecture and the intergenerational relationships between women artists in post-colonial contexts. Phan questions the possibilities for the reincarnation and re-signification of hidden symbols, gestures and rituals that have remained in the shadows, passed down through whispered oral narratives and often overpowered by the lingering effects of colonialism.

The solo show in Kunsthal Charlottenborg’s north wing is curated by Henriette Bretton-Meyer and introduces a deep layering of audio, visual and tactile references. Through more than 100 works from the past 10 years, the exhibition will immerse the visitors in the artist’s delicate and captivating oeuvre including poetic film installations, meticulously executed silk and lacquer paintings, light sculptures, delicate watercolours and architectural interventions. Further info here.

About the artist:
Thao Nguyen Phan has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in international institutions including Pirelli HangarBicocca (2023), 59. Venice Art Biennale, Tate St Ives (2022), Kochi-Muziris Biennale, New Museum Triennial, New York, MOMENTA Biennale de l’image, Montréal (2021); WIELS, Brussels, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2020); Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, Lyon Biennale, and Sharjah Biennial (2019); Dhaka Art Summit, and Para Site, Hong Kong (2018); Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha San Collective, Hanoi (2017); and Bétonsalon, Paris (2016). Between 2016 and 2017, she was included among the Protegée Rolex, accompanied by Joan Jonas as a mentor, among the most recognized living artists and performers. In addition, in 2019 she was shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award and won the Han Nefkens Foundation – LOOP Barcelona Video Art Award 2018. Thao Nguyen Phan is co-founder of the Art Labor collective, which explores interdisciplinary practices and develops art projects to benefit the local Vietnamese community.