14 Dec-14 Jan – Art Vietnam – Nguyen Cam

Art Vietnam Gallery
7 Nguyen Khac Nhu, Hanoi

Opening – Fri, 14 Dec, 6 pm


Nguyen Cam

As Time Goes By

Art Vietnam Gallery is proud to present “As Time Goes By” the latest exhibition by one of Vietnam’s most deeply revered artists – Nguyen Cam.

From the press release:

Attuned to the beauty of movement and its counterpart, contemplation, Nguyen Cam’s most recent paintings embody his life-long journey towards a particular point of balance. When one lives outside their home country for many years, as Cam has lived in France for more than 30, a sense of freedom and suspension in time and space occurs. “As Time Goes By” exiles itself from the singularity of one symbolic order, consciously laboring to include both east and west, spiritual and rational, heaven and earth, illusory and real inside of one harmonious visual landscape. Cam’s work captures the unique tension and tenacity found in the co-existence of two vastly different mentalities. Bits of jute, calligraphic musings, prayer papers, ginko leaves, and other distinctly Vietnamese traces are suspended above methodic landscapes infusing both with a surreal, composed vitality. Neither a Vietnamese artist influenced by the west nor a French artist influenced by the east, Cam resides beyond the reaches of mere influence, origin, and proximity. His most recent exhibition presents the prospect of choice without resolve, embodying freedom and possibility in a world haunted by the sometimes cruel necessity for particulars. Instead of aiming at a resolution “As Time Goes By” makes the most of tension, illustrating the spectacular and meditative moment when life is encountered in its entire irreducible splendor.

Cam’s early life was defined by exile and exodus. He was born and raised in Viet Nam during the first Indochina War. After a bomb destroyed the family home Cam journeyed north for 5 years with family through small villages and bush. Eventually his entire family immigrated to the quieter land of Laos. His father’s death in1961 left Cam, the oldest male, to care for his younger siblings. In 1969 Cam left Laos alone in order to embark on “a more personal process,” a journey that was fueled by his intellectual and creative curiosity and which brought him to France to study at the l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Over the years France became Cam’s home, writing into his eastern sensibilities variations in the theme of western rationality.


Cam’s work yields itself to spirituality and Cartesian models of understanding, it is intuitive and yet methodically composed. Many of his recent paintings draw on the visual language of calligraphy. While they resemble calligraphy in form, the images have no semantic meaning. Instead, Cam paints with the “calligraphy of his soul” tying universal iconography into a deeply personal, intuitive dance which he believes any viewer can respond to. Instinct gives birth to a universalism only wholly appreciated against the limits of symbolic rationalization. Cam borrows from memories, from the present, and never fails to imbue his well with traces of the eternal. His work tells of yesterday and today and asks for tomorrow, it conjugates the past in the future tense, or perhaps it is the reverse. By engaging in a world outside of absolutes, Cam’s work opens itself to the vibrant, constant energy of possibility.

Art Vietnam Gallery
7 Nguyen Khac Nhu, Hanoi
10 am – 6 pm, closed Sundays
Tel: 84 4 927 2349
Fax: 84 4 927 2804

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