Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.
Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.
Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.

Art and Sociocultural Reflections

Nguyễn Việt Cường, an immigrant who has made Saigon his home, invests considerable time in closely observing and absorbing the vibrant sociocultural dynamics of this city. Saigon, known for its frenetic urban pulse and intricate, multi-tiered architecture, serves as a living canvas for Mr. Cường's artistic exploration. His aesthetic sensibilities are deeply intertwined with the contemporary zeitgeist, which is vividly reflected in his choice of raw materials to craft depictions that resonate with stark realism.

Rejecting the confines of traditional dualities, Nguyễn Việt Cường's artistry celebrates the organic flow of life. He has a unique talent for transforming mundane objects, often overlooked or discarded in the hidden recesses of domestic spaces, into profound artistic statements. Whether it's a weather-beaten cardboard box or a faded poster tinged with nostalgia, Mr. Cường recontextualizes these items, stripping them of their consumerist associations and recharging them with new, thought-provoking artistic value.

In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Cường's creative impact has been particularly poignant. His "Box of Saigon" project stands as a testament to his ingenuity and the indomitable spirit of the Saigonese people. By repurposing cardboard boxes that once carried relief supplies or online purchases, he creates poignant visual narratives that reflect the community's resilience against the virus. These humble boxes, once mere vessels of commerce, are now imbued with a profound conceptual significance, igniting discourse on the themes of consumerism and our societal dependence on commodities.

Nguyễn Việt Cường's artwork "Meal Trays," showcased last November, was heralded as one of the standout pieces in the prestigious UOB Painting of The Year 2023. This recognition underscores the depth and relevance of his work, which not only captures the essence of the times but also challenges viewers to engage with the underlying messages.

The upcoming exhibition "Making a Living" promises to be a continuation of Nguyễn Việt Cường's journey in narrative innovation. By leveraging rustic materials and drawing from his personal experiences, he aims to evoke reflection on the textures of Saigon's collective memory and the fabric of everyday Vietnamese life. His art offers a window into the communal experiences and stories that bind the people of Saigon and, by extension, the broader Vietnamese culture.

Nguyễn Việt Cường's contributions to the art world are marked by his participation in significant exhibitions such as the Biennale Young Artist Ho Chi Minh City 2011, National Fine Arts 2014, Young Fine Arts Festival 2022, and UOB Painting of the Year 2023. His evolving body of work continues to inspire and provoke thought, bridging the gap between personal experience and universal themes. Through his art, Mr. Cường invites us to look beyond the surface and discover the rich tapestry of life that unfolds in the bustling streets and quiet corners of Saigon.

The Visual Anthology

“Mâm Cơm”
Exhibited at UOB Painting of The Year 2023 and Calm Exhibition by Concept Tử Tế

Family Meal

I use the old Lai Thieu bowls and plates, placed upon the familiar foldable wooden table of the family, and paint upon them images that are deeply etched in the subconscious. The family meal is the soul of happiness, love, bonding, and nurturing affection among generations in the family.


Worker’s Meal Tray

In August 2021, when the COVID outbreak was at its peak, I painted a self-portrait on a worker’s meal tray used during the “3 at the spot” regulation period (production, quarantine, and living at the spot). The meal represented my mood and circumstances at the time—cold and lonely.


I placed two “Meal Trays” side by side to make them one artwork. This piece is a way for me to converse with myself, to clearly identify the contradiction between the two sides of my emotions—the happy memories of the past and the cold loneliness of the present.


The result of this contradiction is two opposing sides that unite, which is the condition that drives the movement and creativity within me to develop. Always creating something new. I am also an internal migrant, just like millions of others in Vietnam.


Through this work, I also want to speak about the reality of Vietnamese society. The unbalanced development between urban and rural areas leads to consequences such as wealth disparity, social security issues, and especially environmental pollution.

Mâm cơm (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.
Mâm cơm (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.
Mâm cơm (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.
Không đề 3 (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.
Không đề 4 (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.

“Không Đề” Series
Exhibited at Making a Living exhibition

In my artistic process, I engage in the act of reimagining an old poster. This involves meticulously cutting it into numerous small fragments, which I then thoughtfully rearrange and piece back together, giving rise to an entirely new configuration. Through this transformation, the initial message of the poster is intentionally stripped away, clearing the stage for the emergence of fresh interpretations and meanings. This method challenges the conventional hierarchy of information by deliberately discarding what is traditionally deemed the most crucial element—the content. What remains is a curated selection of typographic elements, material textures, color palettes, and a purposeful composition.


This practice I’ve adopted is what I describe as a deliberate valorization of the discarded, a conscious effort to breathe new life into what has been cast aside. It also serves as a critical commentary on the preconceived patterns of our daily information consumption. By disrupting these patterns, I invite a reexamination of the mundane, encouraging a broader and more open-minded perspective.


Moreover, this approach is a reflection of my ongoing commitment to crafting narratives that are not only innovative but also deeply resonant with the raw essence of the materials I employ. It’s an invitation to the audience to engage in introspection about the substances that have become deeply embedded in our collective consciousness—materials that are not just part of our physical surroundings but also integral to the shared experiences and memories that define the urban landscape of Saigon and the cultural fabric of Vietnam.


Through this lens, I continue to explore and narrate stories that, while rooted in the simplicity of everyday objects, speak to the complex tapestry of human emotions and societal interactions. My art is a dialogue with the viewer, a call to look beyond the surface and recognize the value and beauty in the overlooked and the ordinary, and to see the potential for transformation and meaning in every aspect of our shared existence.

Không đề 7 (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.

“Rồng Chầu Sen”
An artistic piece measuring 90x90cm, crafted using incense and book materials.

Utilizing the ancient technique of incense burning, I meticulously etch a dragon and lotus motif onto a collection of Vietnamese proverbs and folk songs. This pattern, inspired by the historic carvings of Thai Lac Pagoda, pays homage to Vietnam’s rich tradition of ancestor worship.


The process not only preserves the artistry of temple sculptures but also connects the intangible heritage of language and music. It symbolizes the enduring values of power, purity, and enlightenment that are central to our cultural identity.


This work stands as a celebration of our ancestral wisdom, encapsulated in the proverbs and melodies passed down through generations. It serves as a poignant reminder of our roots and the timeless principles that have shaped the Vietnamese way of life, ensuring that these traditions continue to be cherished and upheld by future generations.

Rồng chầu sen (2024) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.
On-Off (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.
On-Off (2023) by Nguyễn Việt Cường. At The Mango Hub of Concept Tử Tế.

“On - Off”
Exhibited at Calm Exhibition 2023
by Concept Tử Tế.

When one door closes, another opens. We often fixate on the closed door, missing the new path unfolding before us. I’ve embroidered my eyes onto an old door, symbolizing awareness and readiness to seek new opportunities when faced with closure.


The act of leaving behind the familiar in pursuit of something greater is akin to opening a door to a new horizon, abundant with opportunities and challenges. This metaphorical door represents a guiding principle in life, encouraging us to embrace change and the growth it brings.


It’s a reminder that every ending heralds a new beginning, every setback is a step towards a new journey of discovery, and every choice we make leads us to new experiences. Embracing this mindset allows us to navigate life’s transitions with hope and determination, always looking forward to the doors of possibility that await us.

“Minh Định” 2022
Belongs to My Personal Inventory

The artwork is a compelling series of mooncakes, each meticulously fashioned from cardboard and sculpted into the eyes of Vân Anh, a child whose life was cut short by a step-parent’s act of violence.


These mooncakes, traditionally emblematic of family unity and joy during the Mid-Autumn Festival, are repurposed to shed light on the grave issue of domestic violence. This societal ill, often shrouded in silence, arises from a complex interplay of economic hardship, psychological distress, and a general lack of awareness.


The piece serves as a somber reflection on a culture that, while rich in tradition, still grapples with the shadows of suppressed voices and ambiguous legal protections against domestic abuse. It is a clarion call for attention and action, urging a collective awakening to the realities that allow such tragedies to occur within the supposed sanctuaries of our homes.


Through this, I implore everyone to foster a world where safety and love are the foundations of family life.

Minh Định (2022) by Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.
Minh Định (2022) by Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.
Bomb (2022) by Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.

Exhibited at Peace For Ukraine 2022.

I painted a portrait of a man holding enough nuclear warheads to detonate the Earth six times over. So immense was this power that I imagined and depicted him as an atomic bomb, perpetually on the brink of explosion. This piece was displayed at the PEACE FOR UKRAINE exhibition, symbolizing the catastrophic potential of nuclear warfare and the urgent need for disarmament.


The exhibition, a platform for artists to express their longing for peace and to stand in solidarity with those affected by conflict, becomes a poignant reminder of the devastating consequences of war.


Through this artwork, I aim to evoke a sense of urgency and reflection on the precariousness of our world, highlighting the fine line between power and destruction. It is a call to humanity to remember the fragility of our existence and the importance of pursuing peace above all else. The man's portrait, thus, becomes an emblem of the dire need to prevent such destructive forces from ever being unleashed.

“Mr. Pu” 2019
Belongs to My Personal Inventory

The painting captures my imaginative portrayal of a politician, depicted with the head of a dog and the formal attire of a statesman, aptly named "Mr. Pu". The medium: acrylic on canvas. Created in 2019, it stands as one of my most cherished pieces in my personal collection.


This artwork is not just a visual statement but a commentary on the nature of political personas. The canine head represents loyalty and obedience, often expected of public figures, while the suit symbolizes the structured and often rigid world of politics. "Mr. Pu" serves as a metaphor for the duality of a politician's life—bound by duty and scrutiny, yet expected to exhibit unwavering fidelity. It's a piece that invites viewers to ponder the complexities of political identity and the expectations placed upon those in power.


Through this work, I aim to evoke reflection on the roles and perceptions of leadership in the society.

Mr. Pu (2022) by Nguyễn Việt Cường at The Mange Hub by Concept Tử Tế.

Legal Notice:

The content, including all information, images, and videos, provided on this website is the property of Concept Tử Tế and is published with the express consent of the individual contributors. All rights are reserved.

Any reproduction, distribution, or use of this material, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of Concept Tử Tế is strictly prohibited and may be subject to legal action.

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top