Once For A While

My latest series of paintings tell the story of a Vietnamese family’s awkward attempts to integrate into Canadian life.  It explores the idea of whether narrative visual art featuring racial minorities can impact how viewers think about immigration.


The six compositions made their debut in January 2022 at the Chapel Gallery in Victoria BC.

 I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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Media for Once For A While

January 23, 2022, CBC News,

Victoria painter depicts immigrant life for Vietnamese Canadian families in solo exhibit by Winston Szeto

January 23, 2022 Victoria News, Victoria artist’s new exhibit explores Canadian identity through immigrant family’s eyes by Jane Skrypnek

January 17, 2022 CBC Radio All Points West live interview

Hanging the Exhibit, January 2022

Opening Night Presentation for Once For A While, Jan 2022

Paintings
 
Commissioned Works
 
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About Me

Born in 1982 in a pre-internet world, I did not begin an artistic practice until 2017 when I could finally afford to take art lessons. Attending evening atelier classes with Victoria-based artist Nicole Sleeth, by 2019 I began to pursue an artistic life in earnest. With support from the Canada Council for the Arts I launched my first solo exhibition in January of 2022 at the Chapel Gallery in Victoria BC.

The work I seek to do collapses the public and the private, giving viewers insight into my own experiences growing up as a Vietnamese-Canadian to a family of refugees. The main purpose of doing so is to bring asian faces into the mainstream fine art world in ways that are not exotic, magical, or otherwise orientalized to bring attention to the ways in which Canadian identity is formed and guarded and that keep racialized Canadians from ever feeling completely and truly ‘Canadian.’


I hope to also draw attention to the way racialized constructions of identity can become a burden to Canadian-born individuals, like me, who are expected to act as an ethnographer of a foreign country they do not know. My public works reflect the ways in which my imagination is constrained by having only second-hand knowledge of Vietnam from my parents, whose teachings were constrained by their own limited understanding of a homeland they left in order to forget. The burden of having to perform a Vietnamese-Canadian identity, as if the hyphen gives each side of this identity equal weight, is something that must be challenged.

This artistic focus is, however, a double-edged sword, as minority artists often confront the inability to move past race and identity politics and be considered also for their contribution to aesthetics or be placed within the context of Canadian art history rather than adjacent to it.

The resulting frustration and existential confusion is manifested in my other private works, which often reflect a rejection of something, mostly everything. Depending on my mood.


 

Exhibitions, Publications, Awards

2022

The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant

Solo Exhibition "Once For A While"

Chapel Gallery, Victoria BC

2021

Royal British Columbia Museum

RBCM@Outside Virtual Fieldtrip Interview December 2021

ArtAscent Art & Literary Journal 47 February 2021

10th Annual All Women Online Art Exhibition, Light Space & Time  Online Art Gallery - Special Recognition for Excellence in Art for 'china town' 12"x24" oil on canvas

2020

Sooke Fine Art Show

2019

AIRE The Annual International Representational Exhibition, Vancouver

Sidney Fine Art Show

Sooke Fine Art Show

 
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phanchrystal@gmail.com

Victoria BC Canada