Wk 5- Artist Conversation- Tony Nguyen

Exhibition: Fuse
Media: metals/alloys, leather, fur, wood
Gallery: Max. L Gatov Gallery West
Website: No website
Instagram: elll_tigre

About the Artist:
Tony Nguyen is a fifth year undergraduate in the BFA metals program. After earning his BFA at CSULB, Nguyen plans on taking a one year break, then attending graduate school at another location. He believes that it is better to earn your masters with a new set of professors in order to learn more. Once his masters is completed, Nguyen’s career plan is to come back to CSULB as a professor.

It took Nguyen a while to find his niche in school. Starting out as a drawing and painting major, then illustration, Nguyen discovered that his love for art wasn’t properly displayed through his drawing and painting skills. From there, he went into trying 3D art forms: ceramics, wood, and metals. When trying these new art forms, Nguyen fell in love with metals and has been working with them ever since.

In regards to his art, Nguyen prefers to have fun with his work rather than being serious. He says his style at the moment is whimsy, but it does not always remain the same. Nguyen enjoys putting essence of himself into his work as well as grasping at the more childish side of himself through most things he does. At the same time, he is constantly critiquing himself. Nguyen says, “You cannot be content with what you do.”

Content Analysis:
Each piece Nguyen creates has a different inspiration, but the main inspiration through all of his work is the people he comes to meet throughout his life and stories of everyday life. He also likes to take his assignments and infuse his own personality and experiences into it, otherwise he says there is no fun or originality in it.

For the mailbox piece, the inspiration is mailboxes Nguyen saw throughout his travels in London. The television show Doctor Who also had some influence on the look of the mailbox. This is his favorite piece in the Fuse show because it is interactive. There is a slot in the mailbox for people to write notes and slide them into the box for him to read.

When entering the metals program, Nguyen’s goal was to create a full set of armor. He is attracted to the idea of wearing something that can protect your body. It took him two semesters in the metals program, but after those two months Nguyen made a gauntlet as the beginning of his path to creating a full suit of armor.

Another piece of Nguyen’s is a double ring with a samurai helmet as the decoration. He chose to make the decoration big and bulky in order to be obnoxious; the samurai helmet happened to be the manifestation of this goal. There was no other particular reason he chose to depict a samurai helmet on the ring.

Nguyen also has a piece in the show that is reminiscent of the ocean which is inspired by waves and water.

Formal Analysis:
Each of Nguyen’s works has a different combination of colors, materials, and subject matter that set them apart from one another. Each piece is original in its inspiration. The double ring is very clean and precise in the cuts and also looks as if the metal was treated very carefully in order to avoid making marks in its smooth finish. The mailbox took a long amount of time and was created to depict a replica of a real object using different types of materials. The goal to create a miniature replica was a success and every detail appears to be taken into account in the creation of the work. The ocean piece appears to be a bit more loose than the other works, relying on the organic nature of waves to take form without too much control of the work. Even so, the piece is still just as beautiful as the more restricted works. Finally, the gauntlet appears to have taken a long time to put together and make a function piece of armor. I imagine Nguyen put more effort into this piece than most of his works because it has been his goal from the start of being a metals student to create a suit of armor.

My Experience:
I find Nguyen’s line of work to not have direction as a whole, but each individual piece has a story of its own. I enjoy that he infuses real life inspirations from stories and people into his work. These inspirations bring life to the work. I also enjoy that there is an interactive piece in his work, allowing the same inspiration he gets from the people he talks to from the people who view his work. Overall, Nguyen’s work brings joy as well as a film of serious dedication to my mind and I enjoy viewing and contemplating his line of work within the Fuse show.

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