White Blank: Tran Nu YenKhe

24 October - 9 December 2023

Galerie Quynh is pleased to present ‘White Blank’ – a highly anticipated exhibition of new works by Paris-based artist Tran Nu YênKhê. Known internationally in film for acting, art direction and costume design, YênKhê has been making art quietly for over three decades, though rarely exhibits her work publicly. In her first solo exhibition at the gallery, new and recent works created in Paris and Ho Chi Minh City are being presented for the first time.

In the series of sculptures titled ‘White Blank,’ YênKhê creates fluid forms that provide a source of meditation and relief from the turmoil of the world in which we live. Made in a range of materials from plaster, cast bronze and composite, the soft, organic structures are unrecognizable as specific entities yet at the same time, feel familiar. Inspired by a quote from Kandinsky, “White sounds as a silence, a nothing before any beginning,” YênKhê’s sculptures are entirely white – the works only become tangible through the presence of light. They are defined entirely through subtle shadows and highlights; any change in light engenders a transformation of their anatomy.


YênKhê states, “The complex shapes of these sculptures, which evoke the intricacies of plants and of the marine world, as well as the primitiveness of caves, give rise to a sensation of fluidity and an impetus that whiteness, through contrast and subtraction, contains and beckons towards a meditative experience.” Organic and multilayered, they reveal new dimensions of discovery when viewed in an unhurried, deliberate manner.

The series of paintings ‘Between Certitude and Doubt’ are equally compelling, the title suggesting the increasing polarity of our times where the opposing convictions of others create doubt in ourselves. Combining traditional materials with modern aesthetics, acclaimed artist and critic Joe Fyfe has highlighted their ability to “enact a visually antagonistic exchange utilizing only a few contrasting elements.” The compositions comprise fine Chinese mulberry paper layered on unprimed linen and painted areas of strongly colored geometric forms. The tension between the ethereal, billowing forms of the delicate paper and the bold geometric forms forces the viewer into a state where the eye cannot fully focus on one of the elements without being interrupted and drawn back by the presence of the other. The geometric shapes, often appearing 3-dimensional and depicted in a slightly unnerving and unusual perspective, force our eyes to return again and again in a vain attempt to seek some conviction in our vision.

In her works on ‘do’ paper titled ‘Gio,’ instead of the soft, gossamer intangibility of the layers of mulberry paper found in her paintings, YênKhê has abstracted these forms into solid shapes of color. In these works, it is the medium of the ‘do’ paper itself that now provides a sense of fragility in opposition to the geometric forms sitting in contrast atop.

In his essay ‘Subtle Polarities,’ Joe Fyfe writes, “The idea of certitude and doubt is playing out contemporarily and dominates our lives where so much polarization exists. In every instance, YênKhê’s work testifies to an ideal, one in which the artist demonstrates both a continuity with the life lived by all of us and a commitment to abstract form, that it can articulate aspects of it in that peculiar but time-honored way that is unique to itself.”

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