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Dinh Q. Lê (1968-2024)

P·P·O·W is deeply saddened to announce that Dinh Q. Lê, influential artist and dear friend, passed away suddenly on April 6, 2024, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He was 56 years old.

Known for a multimedia practice that spanned photography, video, sculpture, and installation, Lê’s singular voice reframed global histories of Southern Vietnam, challenging censorship, exploitation, and propaganda. For over three decades, Lê developed an artistic practice that insisted on a deeper engagement with the way global crisis is perceived and understood.

Lê was born in Ha Tien (1968), a Vietnamese town near the Cambodian border. Soon after the Cambodian invasion of Vietnam in 1978, the Lê family made a perilous journey and immigrated to Los Angeles where he and his six siblings were raised by their mother. Dinh Q. Lê went on to receive his BFA from UC Santa Barbara in 1989 and MFA from The School of Visual Arts in 1992. In 1996, Lê moved from New York to Ho Chi Minh City. In 2007, he co-founded Sàn Art, an artist-led arts space, library, and educational center, providing grassroots support for innovative and experimental Vietnamese artistic practices and perspectives. In 2021 Dinh Q. Lê finally regained his Vietnamese citizenship.

Using his perspective as both an American Vietnamese immigrant and a gay man, Lê’s practice was often concerned with the mutability and insolvability of self-identity, memory, and the historical record. Lê is perhaps best known for his photographic weavings, which utilize a traditional Vietnamese weaving technique learned from his aunt as a child. Art Historian Lucy Lippard wrote, “(Lê) weaves multiple strands of identity and experience, history and memory, mythology and reality, conflict, and resolution. In a uniquely disciplined collage form, he illuminates the complex interactions of his two homelands—Vietnam and the United States. Apparent contradictions are transformed into visual ebb and flow, cultural give and take.”

The art of Dinh Q. Lê is co-represented by P·P·O·W, New York; Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland;10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong; Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, and STPI, Singapore.

Lê was a long-term friend and inspiration to all who had the opportunity to work with him over the years. We are grateful and honored for the chance to work so closely with Dinh Q. Lê and we will continue to support his legacy.

Memorial plans will be forthcoming.

Dinh Q Lê participated in the 2013 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; DOCUMENTA (13) in 2012 Kassel, Germany; the 2009 Biennale Cuveê, OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria; the 2008 Singapore Biennale, Singapore; the 2006 Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, Australia and the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003, Venice, Italy.

His solo exhibitions include Destination for the New Millennium, The Art of Dinh Q. Lê at the Asia Society, New York in 2005; Project 93: Dinh Q. Lê at Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2010; Memory for Tomorrow at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and Hiroshima City Art Museum in 2015; True Journey Is Return, San Jose Museum of Art, CA in 2018; and The Thread of Memory, Musee du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, France in 2022.

His work has been exhibited and collected at major institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose; MoMA PS1, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Asia Society, New York; the Tate, London; and the National Gallery Singapore; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; and LA County Museum, Los Angeles, among many others.

In 2010, Lê was awarded the Prince Claus Award for his outstanding contribution to cultural exchange.