Tammy Nguyen - New Now New York Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "Yolanda is the name of one of these tropical cyclops women, and after an era of someone else taking her bananas and also eating those same bananas day after day, she screams a long, long wail. Her scream is so loud it uproots the bananas that she has grown from her own womb, destroying herself, her people, and everything else around her." —Tammy Nguyen

    Executed in 2018, Upside Down and Eating is a part of the artist’s One Blue Eye, Two Servings series first exhibited at Crush Curatorial, New York, in 2018. Combining elements of Greek mythology, stereotypes, and the Southeast Asian histories, the present work engages with the story of Polyphemus on a personal level. 

    Brimming with metaphoric imagery that alludes to the story of Polyphemus and American colonial presence in foreign countries, Upside Down and Eating is a call to remember the past. Each cyclops wears monocles reminiscent of military Aviator glasses, reflecting in them a right-side-up and empty tropical skyline.  A recurring image in Tammy Nguyen’s oeuvre, the tropical cyclops references great figures in art history, including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, and the Virgin Mary, among others.


    Odysseus and the Cyclops


    The two figures in Upside Down and Eating are swarmed by multiple puffs of the word “NOBODY” strewn across the skyline. "Nobody” is the name given by Odysseus to Polyphemus to cover his tracks as a raider. In the Greek mythological tale, Polyphemus was once blinded by Odysseus and would exclaim “Nobody hurt me!” when calling for help from his cyclops siblings, harkening back to past American “raids” abroad. In the artist’s detailed explanation of her research process behind the series, she states that “colonialism penetrated so many layers of tropical life that one might as well point and say, ‘Nobody did this to me.’”i Nguyen’s intricate layering of imagery and history highlights her strength as a visual artist and conceptual thinker.

    Detail of the present work.

    Tammy Nguyen received her MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale in 2013 and has since exhibited her work on a global scale. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1’s Greater New York, the Bronx Museum, the Factory Contemporary Arts Center in Vietnam, among others. 

    i Tammy Nguyen, One Blue Eye, Two Servings, online.

    • Provenance

      Crush Curatorial, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Crush Curatorial, One Blue Eye, Two Servings, October 18–November 10, 2018


Upside Down and Eating

watercolor, vinyl and pastel on paper laid on panel
30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61 cm)
Executed in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $8,820

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2022