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Dinh Q. Lê, Vietnamese-American artist, 1968–2024

Born in Ha Tien, a Vietnamese town near the Cambodian border, Lê fled the country and immigrated to Los Angeles soon after the outbreak of the Cambodian–Vietnamese War in 1978. There he and his six siblings were raised by their mother. In 1989, Lê received his BFA from UC Santa Barbara and in 1992 an MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York. In 1996, he moved from New York to Ho Chi Minh City. It was not until 2021 that Lê regained his Vietnamese citizenship.

In 2007 Lê co-founded Sàn Art, an independent artist-led platform in Ho Chi Minh City, organizing educational programmes and providing grassroots support for experimental artistic and cultural initiatives in and out of Vietnam.

A Vietnamese immigrant and a gay man, Lê explored themes around identity, memory and history in his multimedia work. Lê is best known for his photographic weavings inspired by Vietnamese grass mats, a technique he learned from his aunt as a child. ‘Dinh Q. Lê’s photographic art weaves multiple strands of identity and experience, history and memory, mythology and reality, conflict and resolution,’ art Historian Lucy Lippard writes in Lê’s 2003 monograph Dinh Q. Lê: From Vietnam to Hollywood. ‘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.’

Lê’s work has been shown in international exhibitions including the 56th Carnegie International (2013), Documenta 13 (2012), Biennale Cuveê (2009), Singapore Biennale (2008), Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2006) in Brisbane and the 50th Venice Biennale (2003).