Water Feature II
The artist states: "My most recent paintings serve to function as a contemporary take on the vanitas painting, which was meant to remind the viewer of their own mortality. This body of work features common motifs found in memento mori paintings such as meat, fruit, and the burning candle. Even objects that were made to outlast the lifetimes of its creators, such as stone statues and opulent reliquaries, erode and deteriorate with the passing of time.
Growing up, talk surrounding the topic of death was deemed as too morbid to even utter in my household, but the more my family pushed away these conversations, the more curious I became on the subject. The way I have come to see it, the only thing one can truly know of their path in life is that one day they will die. I believe it to be very important to face our own mortality, and that cultural censorship of death and dying has, and continues to, do more harm than good. I am a big advocator of the death-positive movement, and believe that acknowledging the ephemeral nature of our own existence serves to humble and remind us of what we value most. It’s often a scary and uncomfortable conversation to have, but I feel as if this is a good moment in time to start having more uncomfortable conversations in general, and learn to sit in our own discomfort. In Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Natural Causes, she encourages her readers to “think of life as an interruption of an eternity of personal nonexistence, and seize it as a brief opportunity to observe and interact with the living, ever-surprising world around us.”
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.