Nguyen Van Cuong
Nguyen Van Cuong was born in 1976 in Bac Giang Province, Vietnam. He graduated from the Fine Art Teachers College in 1995 and at the top of his class from the Hanoi Fine Art University in 1999,. He is currently a lecturer at the National College of Music and Painting. Cuong has had over 15 solo and group exhibitions since 1997 and has won numerous honors and awards including first prize in 1996 (Propaganda Paintings) and in 2011 (Self Portraiture).
A majority of pieces we have selected for his Tokyo debut have been selected from his solo exhibition in Hanoi entitled "Make-Up Faces". "Sometimes we can not see the real face of a woman. Her face has become a place where she applies make-up, displays her glasses and perches her hat … Women do all this to 'take care of themselves' but are they actually adorning themselves in an attempt to escape who they really are?
Modern times with our constant exposure to media, airbrushing and models has created an expectation that a certain type of beauty is prescriptive and required if others are going to see them as 'beautiful'. Satisfying the desire for a perfect beauty is unattainable for most women but many will go to all means in their quest for the perfect look so that others see them as good looking or find them appealing.
Many women feel that the changes they make to themselves will ultimately make them more attractive - but when considering the time and emotional energy it takes to get to this state of beauty, they almost certainly will have lost something in the process. Perhaps they think that beauty will make their existence easier. But it's possible for the "adorning" to go too far… an unsophisticated person who tries to doll herself up to become sophisticated or intellectual may feel uncomfortable with the roll, especially if they find that they are acting instead of being natural and being who they are. Changing ones' appearance and then taking on a roll can be not only uncomfortable for the actress but deceitful to others. Somehow the idea of being innocent and honest has been lost beneath an exterior façade.
My paintings are an attempt to show the contradiction between who women are and who they make themselves up to be. I use a very natural simple layout, soft lighting, soothing colors, transparency and a dreamy surface to describe the girls' sophisticatedly made-up faces. My paintings address contradictions: femininity versus frivolity, truth versus fallacy, purity versus vulgarity, true beauty versus a sheath of deception …
I think that it is impossible to impose one's subjective sense in art. I just want my works to inspire a vague connotation, for the audience to feel or see what arises in their own thoughts associated with their concept of "makeup". It is my goal to provide a platform for thought over this issue. I don't know whether my attempts will be successful but at the very least, I hope that "Makeup Faces" gives the viewer a subtle but provocative message with the aesthetic contained within each piece. Even better would be that the paintings lead to a dialog about "Makeup" and its implications for beauty."
1976 Born in Bac Giang
1992 Studied at Bac Giang College of Education
2000 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Vietnam Fine Arts University
2007 Graduated with a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from the Vietnam Fine Arts University
2016 Received a PhD in Cultural Studies at Hanoi University of Culture
Currently Lecturer and member of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Central College of Education
Please contact us for exhibition and award information.