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The surprising balance of color, figure, and material in Nguyen Cam's work manifests as both ancient and highly contemporary. Earthy color and texture are layered onto canvas in emotive formations that defy categorization: cardboard, recycled rice sacks, glue, sand, and oil paint combine in unexpected patterns, and this density of material embodies calm power.
Born in Vietnam in 1944, Cam has lived in Paris since 1969. While some of his abstract oeuvre can be placed in conversation with young mixed media artists, others recall traditional practices of calligraphy—even as they shun convention. He disregards formal training, saying "I refuse to learn the calligraphic art and its codified rules: knowledge would stop my hand." Created within the last two decades, the works included in the exhibition Blue Night, Red Earth: The Work of Nguyen Cam exemplify the mature style Cam has found after a lifetime of experimentation.