The artist on "Sparrow Season":
“After my trip to France (for her artist residency at the Centre Pompadour), I spent three two weeks at home with my family in Toronto. While I was there, I witnessed this happenstance every afternoon where twenty to thirty sparrows would flock to my family’s backyard. Every time they’d show up, I’d watched them from the kitchen window with great fascination.
The thing one needs to know about my family’s backyard is that is it not a very glamorous one. The ground is covered by uneven slabs of concrete, and long stalks of fragrant Vietnamese herbs grow through the cracks. The vegetation is manicured and grows a little wildly. There’s a laundry basket prompted up on two broken concrete blocks filled with more herbs and also a dirt pit where my father burns things.
Additionally, the thing one needs to know about me is that for a lot of my young adult life, I felt very ashamed of my family’s financial situation and our cultural background. The high school I attended was mostly made up of upper-middle class white kids who had outdoor pools in their backyards and got opportunities to go to trips abroad. I was always too afraid to invite anyone over to my house for fear of judgement.
Now, this brings us back to me watching these sparrows. These sparrows who had flocked to this ugly backyard, who were having the goddamn time of their lives, eating the seeds from these herbs my mother had let grow wild. There was this constant flurry of action of wings and lively chittering amongst them. I thought it was the most spectacular thing I had ever seen, and it lifted this strange shame I had of my background. It caused me to do a lot of reflection of these false notions of beauty that I had.
"Sparrow Season" was the first painting I made in my studio after returning from my France/Toronto trip. It was a very intimidating painting for me to make. I remember standing in front of the blank canvas and thinking about how my time away has changed me as a person and what that means for me as an artist and not quite knowing how that would reflect in my work.
Paul Valéry has said that, “A poem is never finished; it is only abandoned.” Perhaps the painting doesn’t look as finished as some of the others, but I wouldn’t do anything to change it. It’s very personal to me and represents, what I think, is an important shift in my practice.”
Nguyen's illustrative paintings employ a variety of techniques using oil paint and pastel on a canvas surface. Rife with narrative symbols, her dramatic tableaus sing with chaotic tension and humorous undertones. Painted in jewel tones and highlighted by soft-hued pastels, starkly contrasted by bold gestural markings, Nguyen's works are ready to hang framed or unframed.