The exquisite paintings of Los-Angeles-based artist Julien Nguyen incorporate a multitude of muses, idols and mythologies into a historical treatment of today. From Florentine architecture and Mannerist painting to Hollywood film, Japanese anime, and the impossible bodies of video game fantasy, he builds hybrid histories to pose contemporary queries. This storied staging is anchored with resilient, if no less partial subjects who speak to Nguyen’s underlying navigation of his Vietnamese heritage in a complex post-colonial arena. In this place, where religion is frequently employed for political ends, this exhibition highlights Nguyen’s ongoing exploration of the fusion (and strategic confusion) of Church and State – particularly missionary operations conducted via channels of mass media. His virtuosic technique serves as foil in this regard, moving in and out of the pristine finish we expect from the Renaissance to highlight the amorphous, sometimes grotesque ramifications of his content.
Steven Matijcio, Curator at the Contemporary Arts Center