Nguyen Duc Phuong
The work was created in a craft village in Bắc Ninh that specialises in spiritual statues. They are made from a mix of clay and dó paper fibre and are left unfired while the dark brown ones are glazed with processed tree sap, a colour traditionally associated with monk robes. The alcove shapes presented behind the statues are inspired by the moulds that are used and discarded to create the figurines. Here they are repurposed into creating small cave-like sculptures housing the effigies.
Like many of the artist’s sculptural pieces, the statues are not fully formed although certain characteristics – the shape of the ears or a hand position for example – allow us to immediately understand their symbolic or religious significance in an experience akin to entering an ancient archaeological site. Looking at Faceless, one can observe a timeless quality to the works as if multiple layers of history were stored in the objects themselves.