Dinh Q. Lê, who has published numerous contemporary art works based on photographs of textiles, installations, videos and sculptures, was born in a town near the border with Cambodia in Vietnam, and then moved to the U.S. to escape from the conflict with Cambodia that occurred in his childhood.
After receiving his BFA degree in photography at the University of California at Santa Barbara and his MFA degree in School of Visual Arts in New York, he returned to Vietnam again and is currently creating artwork mainly in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
He told us about the war that experienced in his childhood and the current art scene in Vietnam.
Born in Hà Tiên, a Vietnamese town, near the Cambodia border, Dinh Q. Lê experienced the war during the Cambodian-Vietnamese War, which became full-fledged when he was about 10 years old. Since the area was close to the Cambodian border, clashes were intense, and he witnessed the scene of the murder, where people were shot to death every day.
And he escaped from the war and moved to Los Angeles with his family.
While studying art at university in the U.S., he examined the war that once experienced and faced up to the question about the war in his childhood.
The slaughter which had occurred around him was chaotic in his infancy, and he understood its meaning in his peaceful life as American student.
Although he spent a long time in the U.S., he recalled that he had a feeling like a simulation that tried to blend in with Western culture. Perhaps the part that was not so solid as to try to get used to the U.S. was something that he wanted fundamentally, rather than a cultural background.
In 1993, when he returned to his homeland, he came into contact with the youthful power of the people living in Vietnam, and discovered the value of being able to hear directly from people about the history of Vietnam war which had the most important meaning in his artwork.
As a result, in 1997, Dinh Q. Lê moved the base of his activities to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Dinh Q. Lê began to take up the war in his works and learned deeply through interviews to those who experienced the war. Listening directly to the traumas and other things of that time from them, it was linked to his own memories and reflected in the realistic art production.
It was from the 1990s that contemporary art began to be announced in Vietnam, and the art before that time was about social realism and most of the paintings were realistic.
What triggered the spread of contemporary art in the 1990s was that embassies such as France and Germany opened to the public as places for learning about art. There became a place to nurture modern art for young people who only knew traditional craftsmanship and realistic paintings. And because of globalization in recent years, the number of young artists who learned in Europe and the U.S. has increased.
At present, Dinh Q. Lê is his base in Ho Chi Minh City, the Sàn Art Gallery, where he devotes himself to training and curating young artists, in addition to presenting his own works.
What is different from the art schools in his training method is to set aside time for discussion about the work. Schools only evaluate the artwork, and discussing detailed analysis and reviews of the work is extremely effective in the production of works by young artists.
Currently, Dinh Q. Lê is preparing for Paris exhibitions and Bangkok Biennale.
Also, in Ho Chi Minh City, he plans a poster art exhibition of propaganda featuring social issues such as homelessness, social disparities, and politics at the Sàn Art Gallery.
An ironical attempt to raise a problem with propaganda posters that originally had the intention of guiding ideas is likely to be a very interesting and unique exhibition.
The Farmers & The Helicopters (2006)
This work featured the relationship between Vietnamese people and war attracted by helicopters, and his name became known worldwide through this work.
A piece reminiscent of the sinking of a ship carrying refugees and asylum-seekers who fled Khmer Rouge.
MFA, Photography, School of Visual Arts, New York City
BA, Fine Arts, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
Currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Main solo exhibitions
Beautiful Terror, Viking Union Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wa
Dinh Q. Lê – Memory for Tomorrow, Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan
Dinh Q. Lê: Memory for Tomorrow, Mori Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Tropicana Migration, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong
Dinh Q. Lê: Crossing the Father Shore, Rice Gallery, University of Texas, USA
Remnants, Ruins, Civilization, Empire, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, USA
Erasure, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong
Dinh Q. Lê: Erasure, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, Australia
South China Sea Pishkun, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK
Dinh Q. Lê: Erasure, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney Australia
Saigon Diary, UB Anderson Gallery, Buffalo University, Buffalo, USA
South China Sea Pishkun, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK
Scars and Other Remnants, Prince Claus Fund Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Projects 93: The Farmers and the Helicopters, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
Dinh Q. Lê, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Parkside, Australia
Signs and Signals from the Periphery, ASU Art Museum, Tempe, USA
Elegies, PPOW, New York, USA
South China Sea Pishkun, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong
Signs and Signals from the Periphery, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, USA
A Tapestry of Memories: The Art of Dinh Q. Lê, Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MA
All that is Solid, City Vision Festival, Mechelen, Belgium
Signs and Signals from the Periphery, and Installation by Dinh Q. Lê, ASU Art Museum, Tempe, USA
A Quagmire This Time, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, California, USA
The Penal Conlony: The Mapping of the Mind, P.P.O.W Gallery, New York City, USA
After the War, University Art Gallery, San Diego State University, California, USA
A Tapestry of Memories: The Art of Dinh Q. Lê, Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, USA
From Father to Son: A Rite of Passage, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, USA
The Imaginary Country, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, USA
Offerings, P.P.O.W Gallery, New York City, USA
Vietnam: Destination for the New Millennium: The Art of Dinh Q. Lê, Asia Society, New York City, USA
A Higher Plane, Asia Society, New York City, USA
From Vietnam to Hollywood, P.P.O.W Gallery, New York City, USA
Home Coming, University Art Museum, Santa Barbara, CA; Jeffery College Gallery, California, USA
From Vietnam to Hollywood, Photology, Milan, Italy; 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong
From Vietnam to Hollywood, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, USA
Waking Dreams, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, USA
Texture of Memory, Three Rivers Art Festival, Pittsburg, USA
True Voyage is Return, Montgomery Gallery, Pomona College, Claremont, USA
Cambodia: Splendour and Darkness, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas, USA
Cambodia: Splendour and Darkness, J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, USA
Major Group Exhibitions
When Things Fall Apart – Critical Voices on the Radars, Trapholt Museum, Kolding, Denmark
Spring Watching Pavilion, Void Derry, Ireland
Choregraphies Suspendues, Carre d'Art – Musee d'Art Contemporain, Nimes, France
The Sensory War, Whiteworth Art Gallery at the University of Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom
SeMa Seoul Media City Festival, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
Real DMZ Project, border areas, South Korea
Power of Doubt, Times Museum, Guangzhou Guangdong, China
WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Photographs of Armed Conflict and it's Aftermath, The Museum of
Fine ArtsHouston, Texas, USA; Traveled through 2013 to Annenberg Space for Photography, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Brooklyn Museum, USA
SVA Alumni Show, New York, USA
dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany
ArtHK 2012, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, Arsenale 2012, Kiev, Ukraine
The Other's Other, Artspace, Sydney, Australia
Six Lines of Flight: Shifting Geographies in Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA
6th Curitiba Biennial, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Air Hole, National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
Art in the Auditorium: Elodie Pong, Ergin Cavusoglu, Dinh Q. Lê, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
The Power of Doubt, Museo Colecciones ICO, Madrid, Spain
Busan Biennale: Living in Evolution, Busan, South Korea
Nanjing Biennale, Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, Nanjing City, China
Syntax & Diction: Transforming The Everyday, San Art, Ho chi Minh City, Vietnam
The Tropics: Views From the Middle of The Globe, Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Art Scene Vietnam, ifa Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany
Bodies on the Line Colloquium, New York University, New York, USA
The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public, Practice 2, The Cooper Union School of Art, New York, USA
AAI's Art (Inter)Actions Series, Cuchifritos Gallery, New York, USA
Asian and Asian-American Art from the Permanent Collection, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, USA
Ruptures and Continuities: Photography Made After 1960 from the MFAH Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Live and Let Live: Creators of Tomorrow, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Fukuoka, Japan
Unreal Asia, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany
All That Is Solid Melts into Air, City Visions Festival, Mechelen, Belgium
The Lining of Forgetting: Internal & External Memory in Art, Austin Museum of Art, USA
OK Biennale Cuvee '09-World Art Selection of Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria
Nam Bang!, Casula Powerhouse, Liverpool City, Australia
The Tropics: Views from the Middle of the Globe, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Perspectives: Lida Abdul and Dinh Q. Lê, Freer & Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington D.C., USA
Wonders, Singapore Biennale 2008, Singapore
The Tropics: Views from the Middle of the Globe, Martin-Groupius-Bau, Berlin, Germany
Strategies From Within, Ke Center for the Contemporary Arts, Shanghai, China
Asia, Postcolonial, and Contemporary Arts, Fusing International Biennale, Fusing, Taiwan
Re-Imagining Asia, House of World Culture, Berlin, Germany
The Lining of Forgetting: Internal & External Memory in Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, MA, USA
TransPOP:Korea Vietnam ReMix, ARKO Art Center, Seoul, South Korea (traveling to Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, USA)
Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany
Witness to War: Revisiting Vietnam in Contemporary Art, San Francisco State University Fine Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA
Red Hot: Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Altered, Stitched and Gathered, P.S.1, Museum of Modern Art, Long Island City, New York, USA
Post Dec: Beyond Pattern and Decoration, Joseloff Gallery, Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Connecticut, USA
The 5th Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, South Korea
Ghost in the Machine, San Francisco Camerawork, San Francisco, USA
Quiet in the Land, The Royal Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos
Liberation, Saigon Open City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Another Asia, Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Infinite Painting, Contemporary Painting and Global Realism, Villa Manin Center for Contemporary Art, Udine, Italy
Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA
Stages of Memory: The Vietnam War, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA
Persistent Vestiges: Drawings from the American-Vietnam War, The Drawing Center, New York City, USA
Identities versus Globalisation?, Chiang Mai Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand; National Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand; Dahlem Museum, Berlin, Germany
Only Skin Deep, International Center for Photography, New York City, USA
23+ on 9th, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, USA
Delays and Revolutions, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
Commodification of Buddhism, The Bronx Museum, New York City, USA
The Body of Christ, The Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem, Israel
Corpus Christie, Patrimoine Photographique, Paris, France
Skin Deep, Numark Gallery, Washington, USA
Un/Familiar Territory, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, USA
Crisis Response, RISD Museum, Providence, USA
Sugar & Cream, Triple Candie Gallery, New York City, USA
Global Address, Fisher Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Collecting Contemporary American Art, Ackland Art Museum, Ackland, USA
Lysis: Profound Loss, Healing, and Identity, Pamela Auchincloss Gallery, New York City, USA
Eye in The Sky, Ackland Art Museum, Ackland, USA
Rhythms & Rituals That Feed My Spirit, The Bronx Museum, New York City, USA
Floating Chimeras, Edsvik Konst Och Kultur, Stockholm, Sweden
Conceptual Color: In Albers' Afterimage, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, USA
Conceptual: Sequence, Pairs, Hybrid, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, USA
Indochina: The Art of War, Luckman Fine Arts Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Shifting Beyond Perceptions: Contemporary LA Visions, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA
Beyond Boundaries: Contemporary Photography in California, Ansel Adams Museum, San Francisco; California State University, Los Angeles; California State University, Long Beach, CA
Of the Moment, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
You Can't Go Home Again: The Art of Exile, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, USA
The Changing Face of Portraiture, Chapman University, Orange, USA
Touch: Contemporary Vietnamese Photography, Cypress College Fine Art & Photography Galleries, Cypress, USA
ID/Y2K: Identity at the Millennium, Castle Gallery, New Rochelle, USA