An interview with Tran Nguyen
Tran’s statement on her latest series of works for ‘Nurturing The Uneased Soul’:
Human distress and weariness of the soul are prevalent illnesses we’ve all encountered in our existence. It is ubiquitous to say that life is hard and it’s even harder to relieve ourselves of this chronic disquiet. It is my hope that the milieus portrayed in Nurturing the Uneased Soul pay homage to those who are facing everyday-life difficulties – you, your family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, or even strangers.
The visual metaphors that are depicted in my paintings capture our emotional turmoil. They embody someone that we can contemplate with, something that reorganizes our cluttered mind. It’s somewhere that nurses the unattended thoughts we’ve tucked away, deep inside our psyche. My imageries serve as a reservoir for the mind to collect itself, replenish itself, and resolve itself from its emotive tension. My hopes are that once the viewer has plunged into my oeuvre, they are able to emerge from the pilgrimage with a new, untarnished mindset. With whatever existent hardship you may be enduring, I deeply hope it can help nurture your exasperated soul.
For more, check out the following interview I just conducted with Tran last week…
Please talk a lil’ bit about the general concept behind your new series of works for “Nurturing The Uneased Soul”.
The new series of work furthers my exploration into therapeutic imagery. Each painting depicts a particular milieu of apprehension that conveys many of the prevalent distresses we frequently come across in life. Uneasiness such as ridding ourselves of wayward thinking or living a burdensome life can be abrasive to our soul, but these heavyhearted situations are what makes life even more precious. The adversity we deal with day to day are conducive to meaningful living. Thus, the intent of Nurturing the Uneased Soul is to act as a buffer or, as some have described it, “a squishy mattress” in overcoming these hardships.
Do you use much photo reference or pretty much just rely upon your imagination?
Half and half — it’s used when needed. When I want a “real” feel to my figures, I’ll rely on photo references to capture those humanly imperfections or natural postures. I do try to limit myself from relying on them too much or else my surreal illustrations would end up overly “realistic.” So when I want to diverge from this tendency, I’ll let my imagination/artistic intuition resolve the rest of the painting.
Your work is filled with visual metaphors, please elaborate a bit if you can. Any significance to the recurring diamond pattern present in much of your work?
You’ve probably noticed that trees, birds, and other ornamental forms frequently reoccur in many of my paintings. I use the motifs to help embed the content’s general tone. Shapes such as the iridescent gold diamonds are not only used for aesthetic purposes but also to convey the duality of the complex emotions — the strenuous as well as triumphal aspect of confronting a tribulation. The haphazard of patterns also help create an ambiguous void for the figures to be cast into which furthers the surreal essence of my paintings.
What was the driving force in your life that led you to this particular direction in your narrative content?
Thus far, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had an easy life but I can’t say the same for others. I’ve witnessed many people that’s had their share of hardship, particularly my mom. I can’t help but feel compassionate to those whose life deviates from what they had hope for. I’ve always been interested in the welfare of others but didn’t necessarily know how to apply it to my career. Then, I came across Bruce Moon’s Art and Soul: Reflections of an Artistic Psychology, and his writings guided and synthesized my endeavors in a more concrete way.
What/who do you consider your biggest overall influence?
The people (and their situations) I cross paths with act as my muse. Their tense emotions and tribulations inspire me to compassionately illustrate these ineffable human conditions.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Georgia? What do you miss most about home?
Besides the fact that my family and friends are here, Georgia has a moderately paced lifestyle. Where I’m from, there’s a lot of the countryside and a little of the city side, which has been pleasant to be raised in. I live about five minutes from a vast corn field and the feeling I get from driving by it is overwhelmingly profound and unexplainable. Though it’s inevitable that I’ll venture to other places for work and personal reasons, in the end, I know I’ll come back home. It’s true what they say — “home is where the heart is.”
If you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
I’d open a public art studio that offers a variety of free workshops for people who like to draw, paint, print-make, sculpt, etc. In another section of the studio would be an open exhibit filled with a collection of art created by therapy patients — a kind of art that requires us to close our eyes and open our heart and soul.
What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your solo show with us?
I have some group shows that I’ll be participating in and an awesome collab show next year with a fellow artist. For now, I’m just taking it easy.
Tran Nguyen ‘Nurturing the Uneased Soul’ (in our project room)
Exhibition run dates: March 12th – April 2nd, 2010
Check out the works from ‘Nurturing The Uneased Soul’ here:
* This will be the last show at our Silver Lake location. We will relocate to Culver City this April.
4210 Santa Monica Blvd. in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles (near the Sunset Junction)