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The Propeller Group

Gallery representation as of 2018:
James Cohan
48 Walker Street
New York, NY 10013

View the objects by this artist.


The Propeller Group, an artist collaborative based in Vietnam and Los Angeles, anchors its ambitious projects in Vietnam’s history and its paradoxical present, while extending to address global phenomena, from street culture to international commerce to traditions shared across cultures.  In multifaceted projects, The Propeller Group blurs the lines between modes of cultural production and embraces the formats of branding campaigns, television commercials, Hollywood movies, and music videos to address the complex ideologies that drive global commerce, war, cultural ritual, and historical memory.  The group members—Matt Lucero, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, and Phunam—developed their social consciousness as art students during the 1990s. They were informed not only by academic theory but also by Hollywood films and the cultural controversies that defined the decade. Consistent with this background, the collective uses its work to propose new mythologies that combat dominant narratives: challenging perceptions of Vietnam held in the American imagination, and exploring the relationships between memory, history and the present.  

Carved from jackfruit wood and found tracwood—a type of Vietnamese redwood that is protected in most of the country—this intricate sculpture combines traditional Vietnamese carving techniques with sci-fi subjects.  This so-called “antique satellite” is one of a group of objects in which an imagined future is projected into objects from the past.

The Propeller Group was founded in 2006 and consists of members Matt Lucero (born 1976, Upland, California), Tuan Andrew Nguyen (born 1976, Saigon), and Phunam (born 1974, Saigon). Phunam was trained in the restoration of Khmer and Vietnamese stone and bronze antique sculptures, and is also a self-taught cinematographer who has produced television commercials, music videos, documentaries, short films and television dramas. Lucero received his MFA from the California Institute of Art. Nguyen received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and is one of the founders of San Art, a perennially-persecuted artist-run space and reading room in Saigon. Recent solo exhibitions include The Propeller Group at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, and the San Jose Museum of Art, and the The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Their work was also featured in the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden; the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy; Prospect.3: Notes for Now, Prospect New Orleans; No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Unseen: Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, China; Six Lines Of Flight, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Made In LA, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and The Ungovernables, New Museum, New York. The Propeller Group’s work is included in collections of Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; New Orleans Museum of Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Speed Museum, Louisville; and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, among others. (acquisitons committee March 19, 2018)

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