Skip to content
Dinh Q. Lê, 1968–2024

Dinh Q. Lê, a 56-year-old Vietnamese-American multimedia artist, passed away unexpectedly on April 6 in Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong’s 10 Chancery Lane Gallery announced today. Lê’s practice encompasses photography, video, sculpture, and installation to reframe global histories of southern Vietnam and tackle subjects like censorship, exploitation, and propaganda. 

Lê was born in 1968 in Ha Tien, a Vietnamese town near the Cambodian border. Fleeing the invading Khmer Rouge, his family was forced to emigrate to the United States when he was just ten years old. They settled in Los Angeles, where Lê’s mother raised him and his six siblings. The artist went on to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received his BFA, before gaining an MFA from New York’s School of Visual Arts in 1992. He returned to Vietnam in 1996 to Ho Chi Minh City. Although Lê would settle there permanently, he did not regain his Vietnamese citizenship until 2021.

Lê is best known for his photographic weavings, which are inspired by Vietnamese grass mat weavings, a technique he learned during his childhood from his aunt. However, his artistic expression evolved from his own recollections of war, home, and identity to focus on portrayals of “the lives we had to abandon,” as he once described. He often employed his perspective as both an immigrant and a gay man to explore such issues. Art historian Lucy Lippard described his work as “a uniquely disciplined collage form, [wherein] 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.” 

In 2007, Lê co-founded Sàn Art, an artist-led arts space, library, and educational center providing grassroots support for local and international artists, as well as cultural work. Sàn Art grew to be a leading independent arts organization in Vietnam. In 2010, Lê was awarded Amsterdam’s Prince Claus Award for his outstanding contribution to cultural exchange.

Dinh Q. Lê has participated in major international art events such as Germany’s Documenta 13 in 2012, the 2013 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, and the Singapore Biennale in 2008, among others. His recent solo exhibitions include “True Journey Is Return” (2018) at the San Jose Museum of Art and “The Thread of Memory and Other Photographs” (2022) at Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac. His work has been exhibited and collected at major institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, 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; to name a few.  

10 Chancery Lane Gallery stated via Instagram that memorial plans for Lê will be announced soon.