CB1 Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition of the work of LA-based artist Phung Huynh: “Pretty Hurts.” Huynh’s current work probes questions of cultural perception and cultural authenticity through images of the Asian female body vis-à-vis plastic surgery. The exhibition will be on view from April 15 through May 27, 2017. The gallery will host a reception for the artist on Saturday, April 15 from 4 – 7 p.m.
Huynh’s exhibition “Pretty Hurts” references Chinese foot-binding as one of the earliest forms of cosmetic surgery to contrast the antiquated canon of Asian feminine beauty (small feet, small eyes, a broad forehead, and small breasts) with the current trends of body image influenced by western canons that call for larger eyes, a delicate forehead, a taller nose, and larger breasts. She is interested in how contemporary plastic surgery on Asian women has not only obscured racial identity, but how it has also amplified the exoticism and Orientalist eroticism of Asian women. Therefore, the awkward synthesis of her projects of traditional and non-traditional, of east and west, unravel ideas of cultural representations and stereotypes to challenge how we consume and interpret ethnographic signifiers.
Phung Huynh’s work investigates notions of cultural identity from a kaleidoscopic perspective, a continual shift of idiosyncratic translations. She explores how “outside” cultural ideas are imported, disassembled, and then reconstructed, within the American landscape. Dismantling cultural authenticity, she paints images of Chinese cherubs, lotus, carp and silk textile designs with a “pop” veneer that collide in a complicated composition of delight and horror to challenge the viewer with a western-leaning perspective, as well as the viewer with a nonwestern-leaning perspective.
In an overwhelmingly diverse metropolis such as Los Angeles, images flood our social lens through mass reproduction and social media, taking on multiple [mis]interpretations. Such reflections have guided Huynh in re-stitching traditional Chinese iconography within the loosely woven fabric of American popular culture. There is a purposeful “Chinatown” aesthetic in Huynh’s paintings, alluding to kitsch souvenirs that tourists purchase and commoditization of eastern icons into tchotchkes.
Phung Huynh has had solo exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills and the Sweeney Art Gallery at the University of California, Riverside and the Sam Lee Gallery in LA. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in countries such as Germany and Cambodia. She has also completed public art commissions for the Metro Orange Line, Metro Silver Line, and the Los Angeles Zoo. Huynh is Associate Professor of Art at Los Angeles Valley College. She completed undergraduate coursework at the University of Southern California, received her BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and her MFA from New York University.