Tammy Nguyen - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, May 15, 2024 | Phillips

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  • In Tammy Nguyen’s Northeast Storm and the Young King, 2022, the artist deftly weaves themes of colonialism, environmentalism and spirituality with Vietnam's history of geopolitical struggle. The titular young king is engulfed in a verdant, tropical environment, divinely floating amongst a mélange of palms and birds. Scattered throughout the composition are helicopters travelling west, so reduced in scale that they blend with lilac winged insects, while red weather indicator flags signal a northeast storm and hurricane. The maelstrom of seemingly opposing forces is an apt metaphor for the complex histories of the region, perfectly encapsulated in Nguyen’s expert compositional rendering.


    Jean Pucelle, The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, Queen of France, Folios 68v-69r, The Crucifixion / The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1324-28, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1954, 54.1.2

    Northeast Storm and the Young King was the highlight work of Nguyen’s exhibition The Gale at nichido contemporary art in Tokyo in 2022 and is part of a series in which each work draws visual reference to specific Catholic illuminated manuscripts. Nguyen’s reinvention, in her own words, creates “a world of Catholicism cannibalized by the tropics.”The intricately painted, gold leaf-adorned Medieval illustrations provide not only an overabundant visual language to quote from, but also a fertile ground for considering the global influence of Catholicism, particularly in Nguyen’s parents’ native Vietnam. She describes the religion’s proselytization across the Global South as “a colonial campaign so powerful, it can withstand not only nature, but also modern geopolitical campaigns of conquest.”ii

    “I’m excited by smashing different moments in time together, different threads in history, and making them more confusing, more ambiguous.”
    —Tammy Nguyen

    Nguyen recalls visiting the small island of Galang in Indonesia and coming across statues of Jesus languishing beneath overgrowing vegetation. The sight symbolized so much of the area’s history— the introduction of Roman Catholicism by the French, Galang’s position as a refuge for devotees fleeing Communist Vietnam in the 1970s, and the ever-present backdrop of dense tropical flora. These histories alternatively entangle in The Northeast Storm and the Young King with Nguyen’s reinterpretation of a ‘Man versus Nature’ narrative.



    In 2007, Nguyen travelled to Ho Chi Minh City on a Fulbright fellowship to study lacquer painting and to establish a firsthand relationship with the country. In Northeast Storm and the Young King there is influence from the flatness of the traditional technique and its characteristic use of a color ground. Of her works’ stylization, Nguyen has stated, “I [want] to find a way to make it seem like my images were coming from within the panel.”iii Gold leaf, importantly, counters this viewing experience, contributing a sense of depth that deceives the planar surface. There is an alchemical experience to viewing Northeast Storm and the Young King, as the flat painting produces a stunning effect of depth as one moves around it 

    Collector's Digest


    • Tammy Nguyen was the subject of an acclaimed solo show at the ICA, Boston in 2023.

    • She was featured in the Berlin Biennale in 2022 and MoMA PS1’s Greater New York quinquennial in 2021.

    • Phillips set the auction record for the artist in 2023 with Dust Season, 2020.


    i Tammy Nguyen in The Gale press release, nichido contemporary art, online

    ii Ibid.

    iii NYTimes, Tammy Nguyen, a Maximalist at Play, at the ICA Boston - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

    • Provenance

      nichido contemporary art, Toyko
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Tokyo, nichido contemporary art, Tammy Nguyen: The Gale, September 2–October 15, 2022


Northeast Storm and the Young King

watercolor, vinyl paint, pastel and metal leaf on paper over panel
30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61 cm)
Executed in 2022, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for $33,020

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 May 2024