520 w 23rd street
NY 10011 New York
Phone : 2122798555
In Kyeong Baek ()
Trang Mỹ Uyen (TMU) is an artistic collaboration between Mary “Trang” Nguyen and Denise “Mỹ Uyen” Nguyen. The artists’ alias combines their Vietnamese given birth-names: Trang and Mỹ Uyen. In Vietnam, Trang is a popular girl's name whose meaning is defined as a serious, intelligent one, whereas Mỹ Uyen means beautiful (Mỹ) wisdom (Uyen). The similarities between the women’s names perhaps prophesied what was to become a deep bond between the women, and their profound connection endures—a kinship especially evident in their artistic collaboration, which features cohesive paintings that feel as if they were conceived of and executed by a single person rather than by way of partnership. Depicted in this series is the pastoral landscape of the Hamptons, imagery that remains etched in memory from summers spent on Long Island, where Mary recalls wandering the idyllic shores and cliffsides of Montauk as a child. It was a simpler time, full of long, carefree days in the sun where curiosity flourished, and the freedom of youth reigned. It is perhaps because Mary’s life had not always been so carefree that these treasured memories are so vivid in her mind some three decades later. In the mid-1980s, when Mary was just a few years old, the Nguyen family immigrated to the States from Vietnam. As refugees, they were resettled in Pittsburgh, PA. Every summer from the age of six, Mary would escape to her aunt’s house in Sag Harbor. Long Island was a stark contrast to the often-dreary industrial urban scape of Pittsburgh. The splendid Hamptons summers provide an endless source of inspiration for the work of Trang Mỹ Uyen. It is there that Mary forged her first cognitive observations of American culture. The affluence of Sag Harbor was palpable, thick in the atmosphere like the intoxicating scent of the balmy ocean that surrounded her. The sensations and scenery experienced all those years ago planted seeds of ambition that would later be harvested when Mary moved to New York City in her early twenties to make the American dream her own reality. The work of Trang Mỹ Uyen goes beyond the physical landscape of Long Island. These oil paintings convey the expansive imagination of adolescence. Depictions of landscapes of the sea and surrounding cliffs are reinterpreted through the tender looking-glass of an adult fondly recalling the sentimentality of youth.
Through a distinct style that combines geometric abstraction with the modern landscape, each section of the rocky terrain is leveled down and reduced to its fundamental elements. The scenery is expressed in colorful patterns that recall the playful aesthetic of paint-by-number paintings that were popular throughout the 1970s and 80s, again drawing inspiration from her youth. Each work is composed of tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces that together create a tapestry of sky, sea, and land. They are at once nostalgic and contemporary— a metaphor for one’s own life, experienced over so many years yet remembered only through short but impactful moments.
For Mary, breathing new life into her childhood memories provides the perfect creative outlet for her to explore this formative time in her life. In 2022, she chaperoned her mother’s return to her homeland of Vietnam, where her mother plans to live out her remaining years. It was an emotional odyssey that incited an unexpected desire within Mary to consider more deeply the
trajectory of her own life path and, in doing so, brought about a need to express visually what can’t be captured in words alone. For Mary, this series feels like coming full circle– like coming home. It is a return to her roots and, at the same time representative of the universal human experience; our familial bonds, our search for love, our journey to find a home.
In collaborating with Denise, Mary seeks to unite her life’s story with the next generation. By sharing these experiences with new audiences, she hopes we might better understand where their people have come from while lighting the path forward for whatever is to come.
With his works included in the permanent collection at the Norton and the New Britain Museum, Drew Tal’s successful career has been nothing but a soaring ascension into the global art world. Tal lives and works in New York. His striking work combines photography with digital media to render highly stylized and realistic figurative imagery. Growing up in Israel, Tal was exposed from an early age to a world of multiple ethnicities and just as many religions, cultures, and conflicts. Reflecting on his own narrative on those subjects, Tal consistently draws inspiration from his homeland to recreate a personal approach to human portraiture. Focusing on faces and dramatic close-up portraits, Tal’s composition suggests palpable notes of human contention as well as spiritual transcendence with an underlying uniform beauty. Monks, androgynous characters, religious figures, angels, and demons are his singular emblems of portrayal. Drew’s work, much like himself, cannot be confined within a specific category. He is a cross-cultural messenger of non-relative peace and beauty whose visual messages have rippled and entranced many eyes for years. His poignant universal images will not just come and go as trends but will live on through the sobering stability of their timelessly relevant messages.