January 12th, 2021

Thao Nguyen Phan at Chisenhale

Artist: Thao Nguyen Phan

Venue: Chisenhale, London

Exhibition Title: Becoming Alluvium

Date: September 26 – December 13, 2020

Click here to view slideshow

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of the artist and Chisenhale, London. Photos by Andy Keate.

Press Release:

Chisenhale Gallery presents Becoming Alluvium, the first solo exhibition in a UK institution by Ho Chi Minh City-based artist Thao Nguyen Phan. Working with painting, installation and moving image, Phan’s work explores history and tradition through non-fiction and fictional narratives.

Becoming Alluvium continues Phan’s ongoing research on the Mekong River, which runs through Tibet, China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Composed of two elements – a single channel film work and a series of lacquer and silk paintings – the works simultaneously explore real and imaginary worlds.

Phan’s newly commissioned video work Becoming Alluvium is structured around three chapters telling stories of destruction, reincarnation and renewal, centred around the ebb and flow of the Mekong River. Combining self-shot footage, animation and found imagery, the work weaves narratives concerning industrialisation, food security and ecological sustainability with folklore and myth.

An accompanying series of paintings titled Perpetual Brightness, made in collaboration with artist Truong Cong Tung, further explore the cultural, agricultural and economic significance of the river. The watercolour on silk paintings depict characters in various states – from insects playing musical instruments to a young boy caressing an endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. Presented in frames made with Vietnamese lacquer, eggshell and silver leaf, the series tell stories of the past, present and future of the Mekong River and its inhabitants.

Phan’s new commission builds on previous works Tropical Siesta (2017) and Mute Grain (2019), which collectively address Phan’s urgent call to awaken from a ‘state of collective amnesia’ in relation to the threat posed by excessive consumption of Earth’s resources.

Becoming Alluvium is produced and commissioned by Han Nefkens Foundation in collaboration with: Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona; WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels; and Chisenhale Gallery. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated publication, co-published by the exhibition partners, the Han Nefkens Foundation and Mousse Publishing.

Lead Supporter: Shane Akeroyd. Thao Nguyen Phan’s commission is produced with support from the Chisenhale Gallery Commissions Fund. With additional support from The Elephant Trust. With thanks to Galerie Zink Waldkirchen.

Chisenhale Gallery’s Talks and Events Programme 2020 is supported by Brian Boylan and forms part of Chisenhale Gallery’s Engagement Programme.


Thao Nguyen Phan lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Selected exhibitions include: Monsoon Melody, WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2020); Becoming Alluvium, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists, The Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; Leaving the Echo Chamber, Sharjah Art Biennale 14 (all 2019); A Beast, a God and a Line, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh, Para Site, Hong Kong and Museum of Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2018); and Poetic Amnesia, the Factory Contemporary Art Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (2017). She is the recipient of the Han Nefkens Foundation – LOOP Video Art Award 2018.

Link: Thao Nguyen Phan at Chisenhale

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