Nguyen Khuyen revitalises the time-honored Vietnamese tradition of woodcut printing with her uniquely contemporary and intimate renditions of family.
Originated as part of the celebration of “Tet" or Lunar New Year, woodcut printing was used to portray well-loved mythical and religious stories and themes, representing good luck and to be given as gifts. It also required immense patience and skill, from the selection of the durable and insect resistant wood from persimmon trees, to the intricate task of carving out complex scenes with very little room for error. This unique art form is as simple and pure as the Vietnamese people’s lifestyle. The art has its own beauty and national identity.
Khuyen chose to dedicate her life to this beautiful ancestral tradition. After she carves out the negative image on a wooden board, she fills it with ink and applies a sheet of paper on it. The print is realized after several hours of careful and deliberate rubbing, while putting pressure on areas she wants to emphasize, which creates subtle nuances on the final print. Khuyen uses each board for a maximum of 8 impressions.
In 2009, Khuyen’s inspiration turned towards her family, specifically her children. When she embraces them, her heart is full and she feel at peace and contended with the home and life she’s created. This affection and dedication the artist has for her children brings a smile to the face of the viewer, as they observe her paintings featuring bouncing, cheerful, jolly babies, embraced by their mother and father. She surrounds the family with whimsical elements straight out of a children’s colouring book; little houses, trees, cute pets and crayons.
Through her art, Nguyen Khuyen has immortalized the most precious and innocent time of their lives with parental adoration; a short but unforgettable period before they begin to embark on their own journeys in this world.