‘Zhuang Zhou’s Dream’ by Phuong ‘Jacquell’ Nguyen
Artist: Phuong ‘Jacquell’ Nguyen
Title: ‘Zhuang Zhou’s Dream’
Medium: Watercolour and pearl pigment on tea-dyed Fabriano Artistico paper 300gsm
Dimensions: 13.75″ x 10.5″
Year of Creation: 2021
About the Artwork:
“This painting was made in a time when a mystical event just took place and left a very big impact on me. Since my teenage years, I have always wondered about the lost pages in my family tree, which is a long and complex story. I have made my peace with it, and then out of the blue, for the first time those pages are recovered. The broken chapters connected. The origin resurfaced to the light. It’s like discovering a new room in the same house I have lived in for the past 30 years. Like being awakened from a long sleep. And in that instant when the truth emerged, I’m left between the older self that I was familiar with for almost 30 years on Earth, and a new identity which was born recently, concerning something that was rooted inside me since the beginning.
And it reminds me of the short essay on dream and identity of Zhuang Zhou – a famous Chinese philosopher who lived in the 4th century BC during the Warring States period:
“Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up, and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn’t know if he were Zhuang Zhou who had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zhou.”
The artwork embraces the theme of metamorphosis which is a recurrent motif in my artwork. The symbolism of metamorphosis in the insect world has a great significance on my perception of an artist’s growth. Everytime the old skin is shed, a new body is born and along with it, a strange new world awaits. The world the worm once knew was just plants and dirt, now its boundary has spread to the sky. But in that new world, there is not only excitement with endless room to explore but also the unknown – things the butterfly has to learn quickly to adapt.
To understand the origin is to be reborn again. A fuller self, a new identity, and it requires courage to follow it.” – Phuong ‘Jacquell’ Nguyen
About the Artist:
Phuong Nguyen is a painter from Vietnam who currently lives and works from Bologna, Italy. Her works suggest a gentle melancholy with grace and beauty. She believes that the life of a painting should be infinite and uses selected behaviours from the wild to convey the human condition and the emotions that surround it. Realistic with a hint of the surreal, her pieces are created using watercolours.