Tammy Nguyen, Anno Domini 40, 1945, 1969, 2022. Watercolor, vinyl paint, pastel, and metal leaf on paper stretched over panel. 72 x 108 inches (182.9 x 274.3 cm). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Photo by Chris Gardner. © Tammy Nguyen
Connecticut-based multidisciplinary artist Tammy Nguyen (b. 1984, San Francisco) creates paintings, works on paper, unique artist books, and publications, including through her independent imprint Passenger Pigeon Press. In the densely layered symphonic space of her gilded paintings, Nguyen explores contradiction and confusion through intertwining narratives of geopolitical, environmental, and spiritual subjects. Many of her paintings are composite images that reconsider lesser-known histories against the backdrop of lush landscapes teeming with insects, animals, and plants imbued with agency, and varied symbols of violent conquest or soft power. Throughout, the beautiful aesthetic of Nguyen’s paintings is disarming, creating a productive tension that opens space to consider the histories and subjects her work examines. For the ICA, her first solo museum exhibition in the U.S., Nguyen is creating a new, interconnected body of paintings, works on paper, and artist books. These works, inspired by East Asian landscape painting, are all related to the relationship between man and nature, landscape and wilderness, as articulated in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s influential book-length essay Nature, written in 1836 in Concord, Massachusetts. Nguyen maps the lasting impact of Emerson’s ideas on still commonly held ideas of nature, especially through a studied consideration of the activities of the United States Agency for International Development in Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.