Self-portrait in Rice Paper Johnson Ngo

September 14, 2011 - May 1, 2012

Johnson Ngo, Selt-portrait in Rice Paper (2011).

Every Fall the Blackwood Gallery commissions an artist to produce a work for the Bernie Miller Lightbox, a billboard sized (268.0 cm x 176.5 cm, 108" x 72") venue installed on the outside of the William Davis Building (formerly known as South Building) where the two wings of the building meet at the end of "Five Minute Walk". The commissioned work stays throughout the school year. In the summer, the Lightbox displays the original work by Bernie Miller, Five Minute Mirror (2001), which inaugurated the site.

Curatorial Statement

Mining the materials, gestures and traditions of his Vietnamese culture, Johnson Ngo explores physical acceptance and gender identity in his performance-based practice. In Self-portrait in Rice Paper, Ngo adopts traditional poses and wet drapery techniques from Greek sculpture by using layers of rice paper to obscure gendered markings on his body. According to the artist, these masking gestures “create a veil to emphasize the contrast between my exposed ‘yellow’ skin, black hair and the whiteness of the rice paper.” Photographed on the grounds of the UTM campus, the image balances elements of drama, tension and beauty in Ngo’s suggestive portrayal of intimate yet public exposure, made all the more poignant at this monumental scale.

Self-portrait in Rice Paper is part of the exhibition Viva Voce: 40th Anniversary of the Art & Art History Program on from September 14 to October 23, 2011.

Artist Biography

Johnson Ngo has exhibited at the Blackwood Gallery, SPARK Contemporary Art Space, Hart House, Toronto Free Gallery/7a*11d, Mississauga Living Arts Centre, the University of Toronto Art Centre, and performed in LEITMOTIF for the 2011 edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. In addition to his artistic practice, Ngo has contributed his administrative efforts to organizations such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Trinity Square Video, Toronto Animated Image Society, and Reel Asian Film Festival.

Installation Views

The artist would like to thank Paola Savasta, Carly Whitefield, Jennifer Chan, Mallory Hazlett, Jessica Vallentin, Allyson Mitchell, and Deirdre Logue for their ongoing assistance and support.