Dinh Q Le

Dinh Q. Lê (1968-2024) was a pioneering Vietnamese artist whose body of work spanned photography, film, and installation. Through his art, Lê explored and presented the often overlooked narratives of war and migration from the perspective of the global Vietnamese diaspora. He deftly combined his own memories and perceptions with popular depictions from both Western and Eastern cultures, creating a unique voice that reframed the global histories of Southern Vietnam and challenged censorship, exploitation, and propaganda from all sides.

Born in Ha Tien, a Vietnamese town near the Cambodia border, Lê and his family immigrated to Los Angeles soon after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978. This move marked the beginning of a life shaped by cultural intersections and rich storytelling. Lê received a BFA from UC Santa Barbara, where he began experimenting with photo-weavings, utilizing a traditional technique taught to him by his aunt.

Lê’s work gained international recognition, and he participated in several prestigious art events, including:

  • The 2013 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
  • The 2009 Biennale Cuveê, OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria
  • The 2008 Singapore Biennale, Singapore
  • The 2006 Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, Australia

His artworks have been showcased in major institutions such as:

  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • The San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
  • MoMA PS1, New York, NY
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
  • Tufts University Art Gallery, MA
  • The Asia Society, NY

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to cultural exchange, Lê was awarded the Prince Claus Award in 2010. Represented by P·P·O·W since 1998, Lê presented seven solo exhibitions with the gallery before his sudden passing in April 2024.

Lê was devoted to asserting his cultural history through his artistic practice. To further this goal, he established Sàn Art, a nonprofit contemporary art space that continues to inspire future generations to engage in their own pursuit of cultural reclamation. Christopher Moore of The Art Newspaper described Lê as “an uncle to everyone in the Vietnamese art scene, young or old, local or foreigner, mentor to many.”

In his final years, Lê continued to receive significant recognition. In 2022, he was the subject of the exhibition “The Thread of Memory and Other Photographs” at musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, France, and was featured in “Living Pictures: Photography in Southeast Asia” at the National Gallery Singapore, which was on view through August 2023. His work will also be featured in “Legacies: The Asian American Art Movement on the East Coast (1969-2001)” at NYU’s 80WSE Gallery in fall 2024.

Dinh Q. Lê’s legacy endures through his impactful work and the communities he nurtured, leaving an indelible mark on the global art scene.

Untitled from the Tapestry Series (quad) 2006