UTA Artist Space is pleased to present An Intricate Binding of Love, Blood, and Sugar, an exhibition of new works by artist and professor Lien Truong, whose work blends painting materials, techniques, and philosophies with various cultural histories.

Dedicated to her mother, who recently passed, the exhibition brings together two different bodies of recent work, including figurative works and a new series of “cake paintings,” which are on view for the first time with UTA Artist Space in Atlanta.

In response to various family photographs Truong rediscovered in her parents’ home while in mourning, Truong’s figurative works on view depict features of her mother and herself intertwined in imaginary landscapes of fruit trees from her birthplace of Vietnam and uncanny, mythological representations of animals. To Truong, these paintings are vivid allegories about the complicated and powerful love between generations and the tangled cultural confrontations mother and daughter endured as war refugees from the American military campaign in Vietnam.

During her declining health, Truong’s mother began watching hours of videos of families cooking and eating together in the region of Dalat, Vietnam, her mother’s birthplace. Across the country, Truong herself found she had an insatiable desire to cook and bake, both mother and daughter finding synchronous comfort in their familial language of care. Food, a critical component in diasporic immigrant communities, was a love language passed on from Truong’s mother. Upon reflecting on specific memories these familiar tastes and smells triggered, Truong’s research took her down a path of discovering food as a critical site for the construction of identity and a tool to interrogate visual, global histories, and inclusive storytelling.

In one work, for example, Truong features a black sesame orange blossom cake, a recipe infused with flavors her mother found comforting. Here, cake serves as an allegory for the embedded history of French colonialism in Vietnam and an object of historic symbolism in the U.S. Much like the physically and conceptually layered figurative works on view, the cake series weaves together historical and military references, textile designs, art history, and diverse painting practices.

The cake project is galvanized first by the love language of food passed down from my mother. In the last year of her life, she craved flavors that triggered specific memories from Vietnam. As a critical site for the construction of identity, taste can inundate sensory pleasure with a sense of belonging and home. Cake is approached as a tool in my art practice: experiments testing historic hierarchies of flavor, into aesthetic storytelling. Cake is composed as food, as form, and as paintings.

(Lien Truong)

I came across Lien's work early last year on Instagram and was blown away by her mastery. I reached out over email, and we cultivated this great rapport. She challenges the static canvas with her unique application of oil, acrylic, and hand painted silk. I am so impressed with how she has formulated a new visual language that is highly layered both physically and thematically.

(Bridgette Baldo, director of UTA Artist Space Atlanta)

Truong's art practice examines cultural and material ideologies and notions of heritage. Her work blends painting techniques, materials and philosophies, military, textile, and art histories; creating hybrid forms interrogating the relationship between aesthetics and doctrine. Her paintings have been presented in numerous exhibitions, which include the venues of the National Portrait Gallery, Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Oakland Museum of California, Art Hong Kong, Sea Focus in Singapore, Southern Exposure, Nhasan Collective and Galerie Quynh in Vietnam, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, and Turner Carroll Gallery.

Truong is the recipient of Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, fellowships from the Institute of the Arts and Humanities, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Jack and Gertrude Murphy Fine Arts Fellowships, and residencies at the Oakland Museum of California and the Marble House Project. Reviews and mention of her work are in several publications including Art Asia Pacific, The San Francisco Chronicle, Burnaway, The Houston Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, New American Paintings, and ARTit Japan. She is an Associate Professor of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.