VietNamNet Bridge – ‘Chapter 1: Where I attempt to drown the dragon’ the fourth solo exhibition by Sandrine Llouquet opened yesterday, June 27, at the Galerie Quynh, featuring alchemy, transformation, discovery and rebirth through highly symbolic images and metaphors.
The show is divided into two parts: nigredo (blackness) and albedo (whiteness).
With a nod to Victorian novels, the whimsical exhibition title suggests the beginning of an elaborate journey full of fantasy and drama for our protagonist. The dragon itself refers to personal obstacles and symbolizes the shadow, an archetype that represents the darker side of the human psyche. Llouquet states, “Each of my artworks is a step left behind that shows a building of oneself: wandering, passage from one stage to another, rebellion, escape, rebirth. By pursuing my research on this idea of building oneself, I naturally came to study the history of alchemy and found deep similarities with my conception of art: a quest for wisdom that goes with material experimentations.”
Strangely familiar yet indefinable, many of the works in the exhibition have curious titles such as Holy Spittle, Head of Tatvamasi, Thunder urn, The Ride of the Cynocephalus, The Dream of a Hydrocephalic Bat, calling to mind invented rituals, children’s games, meditation and science experiments. That pharmaceuticals such as methylene blue and iodine have been used as a medium in some of the drawings, reinforces ideas of experimentation and healing.
A major installation will be set on the ground floor of the gallery’s main space as a kind of passage before the next step. Entitled Studiolo Bianca, the work is a steel cage-like room that contains many of the artist’s personal possessions. Referring to the studiolo in the Italian Renaissance – a room for research and meditation – Llouquet’s studiolo is locked and cannot be accessed by viewers. Research materials, books, drawings, photographs and objects she has collected over the past decade are positioned strategically in the room to reveal/conceal the raw materials that inspire and aid in her quest to drown the dragon.
Born in 1975 in Montpellier, France, Llouquet has lived in Vietnam since 2005. She graduated from École Pilote Internationale d’Art et de Recherche – Villa Arson in 1999. A dynamic contributor to the development of contemporary art in Vietnam, she was a founding member of Wonderful District, a project that promotes contemporary art through exhibitions, concerts and theater pieces, as well as a member of Mogas Station, a Vietnam-based artist collective. Llouquet’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California and Tate Modern, London. She has also participated in a number of biennales with Mogas Station such as the Shenzhen Biennale (2007), the Singapore Biennale (2006) and in Migration Addicts – a collateral event of the 52nd Venice Biennale. Her drawings, objects and videos are in private collections around the world.
The show will last until July 31 at the gallery, 65 De Tham Street in HCMC’s District 1.